Prosecutors in Chicago have dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. The stunning reversal in the high-profile case came Tuesday, when the Cook County state’s attorney office decided not to pursue a case against Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime against himself and lying to police.
Prosecutors didn’t offer a detailed explanation for why they decided to abandon the case against Smollett, simply saying in a statement to the Associated Press that “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances” they decided not to move forward. Joe Magats, the prosecutor who made the call to drop the charges, said that decision came after Smollett agreed to complete community service and forfeit the $10,000 in bail he had paid. He added that the actor had not been exonerated and that there were no issues with the police investigation or evidence. The case has been sealed by a judge.
“We work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime,” Magats said. “I don’t see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety.”
Smollett’s attorneys say he’s been vindicated, but Chicago’s mayor doesn’t agree
Smollet’s attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that “his record has been wiped clean” and called him “a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.”
But not everyone agreed with that assessment. Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson blasted the decision not to pursue the case. “Do I think justice was served? No,” he said after the news was announced.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also had strong words about the Smollett situation. “This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice … from top to bottom, this is not on the level,” he said.
Will Smollett return to Empire?
While Smollett’s legal troubles appear to be over (though the FBI is still investigating a hate letter mailed to
Smollett was written out of the final episodes of this season of Empire in the wake of the hate crime scandal, and TVLine reported that producers were considering recasting the role of Jamal Lyon for Season 6.
The official Empire Writers Twitter account seems to be in Smollett’s corner. It tweeted a screengrab of Smollett on CNN with the message “see y’all Wednesday.”
Smollett is apparently ready to return to the Empire set if the show will have him.
“I’d like nothing more than just get back to work and move on with my life,” he said in a short statement outside the court. He also said he was telling the truth about the January 29 incident. Smollett claimed that two men hurled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” the actor said. “This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life, but I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I wouldn’t bring my family, our lives, or the movement through a fire like this.”
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