The actor/singer hit the headlines after claiming two masked white men had hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him as they beat him up, pouring a bleach-like liquid on him, and tying a noose rope around his neck during the incident, which reportedly occurred outside his Chicago apartment building on January 29.
However, police began to refocus their investigation last week (ends February 15) after questioning "potential suspects" Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who accused Smollett of hiring them to stage the assault.
They were subsequently released without charge, and prosecutors arranged to have a grand jury brought in on Tuesday afternoon (February 19) to hear evidence from the Osundairo brothers to decide whether or not Smollett should face a possible felony indictment for filing a false police report.
The proceedings were postponed thanks to a last-minute call from the actor's lawyers, but on Wednesday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed the grand jury hearing was now underway, with Smollett considered an official suspect.
"Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony)," he posted on Twitter. "Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
The news emerged after Smollett's lawyers met with prosecutors regarding the case, although further details about their conversation have yet to be released.
If he is convicted of filing a false police report, Smollett faces up to three years behind bars.
He has vehemently denied orchestrating the attack, but police officials have since obtained various search warrants to inspect Smollett's financial and phone records, among other documents.