‘Empire’s’ Jussie Smollett arrested and faces a felony charge

(CNN) -- More than three weeks after he alleged that he was the victim of a hate crime, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested on suspicion of filing a false report about it, Chicago police said Thursday morning.

The "Empire" star was taken into custody around 5 a.m. CT, police said, ahead of a 1:30 p.m. bail hearing.

Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming he was attacked by two men, including one who was masked, in the early morning of January 29 in Chicago. He alleged they yelled racist and homophobic slurs, tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him.

At the time, police said they were treating the attack against the black and gay actor as a hate crime.

Read: Two suspects arrested in connection to attack on 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett

But in the weeks since the alleged attack first made headlines, the narrative has unraveled with several twists, transforming him from a victim to a suspect.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Wednesday that the Cook County State's Attorney's Office had approved a felony criminal charge of disorderly conduct against Smollett.

Under Illinois law, filing a false police report is disorderly conduct and punishable by one to three years.

The actor has denied playing a role in his attack, according to his attorneys.

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," his attorneys said in a statement.

"Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

Outpouring of support turned to doubts

For weeks, Smollett has stood by his initial claims that he was attacked. He received an outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians immediately after he reported the alleged attack.

But the backlash and doubters grew louder, with social media users questioning his claims of the attack especially after police said they could not find video of the incident from surveillance cameras in the area.

Police now believe Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate an assault on him, two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN this week.

Read: Jussie Smollett charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report

By Wednesday, Chicago police said they were looking into the incident as a possible hoax. The announcement came the same day the Cook County grand jury met to review evidence of the incident.

Video appears to show brothers buying items

As new details emerged in the case, police have said they want to conduct a follow-up interview with the actor following "some developments."

While they did not provide specifics on the developments, surveillance video from January 28 obtained from a Chicago-area beauty supply store appears to show the men connected to the incident purchasing a ski mask, sunglasses, a red hat and other items the day before the alleged assault.

They paid for the items in cash, according to the owner, who did not want to be identified.

The two men questioned by police -- identified as brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo -- were initially arrested February 13 but released without charges after police cited the discovery of "new evidence." They've met with police and prosecutors at a Chicago courthouse, police spokesman Tom Ahern said.

The two are no longer suspects at this time, Chicago police have said. The brothers' attorney, Gloria Schmidt, told reporters Wednesday that her clients had not accepted a plea deal or immunity. Police sources said the brothers are cooperating with law enforcement.

"You don't need immunity when you have the truth, " she said.

In a joint statement issued to CNN affiliate WBBM, the men said: "We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens."

One of the men has appeared on "Empire," Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett but did not provide additional details.

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