In the sort of shocking twist that not even the writers of Empire could think of for a season finale... Jussie Smollett is now a free man.
Earlier today, the Chicago prosecutor's office announced that it had dropped all 16 charges against the actor for his alleged role in an alleged hate crime perpetrated against him on January 29.
The news has taken all who have followed this case by total shock.
Just over a month ago, Smollett turned himself into the police after authorities determined he staged an attack against himself on a Chicago sidewalk many weeks ago.
The actor had claimed that two white men beat him up after he grabbed a late-night snack, screaming racial and homophobic slurs in his direction before placing a rope around his neck.
He even said that these same assailants doused him with bleach.
However, as the days went on, some holes emerged in Smollett's story -- most notable among them being that two Nigerian brothers who actually worked with Smollett on Empire were apprehended by police as the prime suspects.
They reportedly told the cops that Smollett paid them to fake an assault on him.
That led to the arrest and the presumption of guilt against Smollett, especially after a grand jury indicted him on 16 felony charges.
But each and every one was dropped on Tuesday morning.
And Smollett has now issued a statement in response to the stunning development.
It reads as follows:
First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the county and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and shown me so much love.
No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will forever be grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain.
I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.
I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of doing one drop of what I was accused of.
And it concludes:
This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly, one of the worst in my entire life but I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge and I would not bring my family, our lives or the moment through a fire like this.
So I want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart and I would also like to thank the state of Illinois for attempting to do what's right.
Now I would like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life but make no mistakes I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.
So again thank you for all the support, thank you to faith and thank you to God. Bless y'all. Thank you very much!
What does all this mean going forward for Smollett?
FOX has issued its own statement, which implies his job on Empire is safe:
Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.
But First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats, who chose NOT to prosecute Smollett after all, told the press that he pretty much still thinks the star is guilty.
"We stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case," Magats said today, adding:
"The mere fact that it was disposed of in an alternative manner does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities in the case or the evidence."
Magats went on to emphasize that his office did not "exonerate" Smollett, just that it has decided that the case against him is not worth the city's time or money.
"Here's the thing -- we work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime," he says. "Public safety is our number one priority. I don't see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety."
That may be true... but it can't be the standard to which all cases are held.
Otherwise... hey, go cheat on your taxes! Go do drugs in plain sight! Who cares, right? These aren't violent crimes!
Talk about a confusing mess.