Not much later, Chicago police revealed they had evidence pointing to the Hollywood star lying about the attack, accusing him of paying his "attackers", all so he could get more attention and score a bigger salary from Empire.
The actor appeared in court earlier this week, when prosecutors and defence lawyers agreed to allow cameras during Thursday's hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Smollett's attorney entered a not guilty plea on behalf of the 36-year-old actor, who stood next to his attorney with his hands behind his back. Despite a flood of personal texts and other evidence that prosecutors presented in that late February hearing, Smollett has always insisted on his innocence and that he did not stage the attack.
Interestingly enough, Empire returned for its Season 5 midseason premiere on Wednesday, marking the show's first new episode since Smollett's alleged January 29 attack. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence - and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence - against Mr. Smollett".
A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report.
"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines", Geragos said. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says. He told police that two men attacked him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The men were released without being charged.
Watkins granted Smollett's request to be allowed to meet with lawyers in NY and California, but said the actor must give the court at least 48 hours' prior notice.
Judge Watkins approved a request from Smollett's lawyers that the actor be allowed to travel freely to NY and California to consult with his bicoastal legal teams.
"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states. But the Fox drama's executive producers said in a statement last month that the actor's character would be removed from this season's final two episodes "to avoid further disruption on set".
Smollett has denied any involvement in orchestrating an attack.