The Reason Charges Against Jussie Smollett Were Dropped

Jussie SmollettEmpire star and actor accused of staging a hate crime against himself in late January– has been cleared off all charges.

On January 22, a racist and homophobic letter arrived at the set of Empire. Nearly a week later, on February 28, Smollett was reportedly attacked by two white men wearing ski masks.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

According to TMZ, the attackers went on to put a noose around his neck and spew hateful words relating to Smollet’s race and sexual orientation. Smollett checked into a Chicago hospital that same night. Shortly after the attack, Smollett’s family spoke out in support, condemning the attackers. Smollet would speak on the attack for the first time February 1.

In late February, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) reported that they had reason to believe the attack was staged, and many went on to assume it was a publicity stunt that Smollett coordinated. However, his underlying motivation remained unclear (and salary reasons seemed unconvincing).

CNN reported that the CPD believed Smollet may have paid the attackers, as the police had records of the accused men purchasing the rope that they used to wrap around Smollet’s neck. However, despite this fallout, Smollet’s charges have been dropped.

Chicago Mayor and the Police Superintendent still think Jussie Smollet staged the attack

According to CNN, the Chicago Mayor and Police Superintendent still have reason to believe that Jussie Smollett staged the attack. Furthermore, the lead investigator reported that he believes Smollett carried out a crime as well.

The question on everyone’s minds: how exactly was Smollett cleared off all charges? A few CNN analysts sat down to figure out what exactly may have happened, and explain the likely reasoning behind the court’s decision.

Not enough concrete evidence against Jussie Smollett

While authorities had footage of the men involved in the assault buying ski masks, sunglasses, and other suspicious items, they did not have footage of the actual attack, according to CNN.

It’s likely that the defense saw the holes in the prosecution’s case, as the evidence put forth, though very convincing, was mostly circumstantial. However, considering one of the attackers was Smollett’s personal trainer, there is still reason to be suspicious.

A criminal defense attorney, Sara Azari told CNN, “I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they looked at the evidence and didn’t feel they could prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The brothers charged may have recanted their statement

When it was reported that Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack, the case took its first major turn. However, while the men confessed to the plot and appeared before a grand jury, they were released without charges.

It’s possible, and likely, according to CNN analysts, that the two men did not have a plea or an immunity deal, and recanted their statement. Without the two people behind the crime agreeing that it was staged, the case could have fallen apart. The brothers have since expressed regret regarding their involvement, but have not put forth many details.

Whether the accused changed their tune, the police came in a little too hot and heavy, or there wasn’t enough evidence to prove a staged attack, Jussie Smollett has been cleared of all charges.

For the actor’s sake, let’s hope that he is not guilty, as faking a hate-crime over salary and/or recognition would be in extremely poor taste.