Jussie Smollett prosecutors dropped all charges against US actor Jussie Smollett after he accusations he staged the alleged racist and homophobic attack reported to police in January.
The actor, who is black and gay, had been charged with sixteen felony accounts of filing a false police report. Those charges followed him telling police he was assaulted on a Chicago street by two masked men. He claimed the men shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured an unknown liquid on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
But in a bizarre twist, Chicago police claimed Smollett had paid $3,500 to two brothers, both of whom are black, to stage the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on TV series Empire.
Now in another surprise move, on Tuesday the Chicago prosecutor’s office announced the dropping of the charges. They cited Smollett’s “volunteer service in the community” and agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond. However, they said the move did not vindicate or exonerate Jussie Smollett.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”
Smollett said he had been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
“I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused.”
Further, he said, “I am a man of faith, and I am a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”
Smollett’s attorneys described their client’s record as “wiped clean”.
“He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.
“The entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion.”
‘A whitewash of justice’
But Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the decision by prosecutors to drop the charges as a “whitewash of justice”.
“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice.”
He said the action sent a clear message that people in a position of influence and power receive favourable treatment.
The mayor said Jussie Smollett was “let off scot-free with no sense of accountability.”
“Is there no decency in this man?” he said.
“Our officers did the hard work day in and day out working to unwind what happened that night. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud.
“A grand jury saw the evidence [and] realized this was a hoax—a hoax on the city, a hoax on hate crimes, a hoax on people of good values who actually were empathetic at first. He used that empathy for only one reason… himself.”
Chicago police Supt Eddie Johnson said Jussie Smollett still owed the city of Chicago an apology.
“At the end of the day, it was Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period,” he said.
“If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so that everybody could see the evidence.”
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