Jussie Smollett: Chicago Police Superintendent and Mayor Slam Decision to Drop Charges Against Him
By Antoinette Bueno
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Both Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are making it clear that they strongly disagree with the prosecution's decision on Tuesday to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett.
The 36-year-old actor will no longer face charges for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office stated on Tuesday.
"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," their statement to ET reads.
A Chicago police source tells ET that the department really had no idea that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office was going to drop all the charges against Smollett. The source calls the decision “insulting” and an “absolute travesty.”
“It was a sucker punch” to the department," the source adds. “It was a tough day.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Johnson said he didn't think justice was served. "Do I think justice was served? No," Johnson bluntly told reporters. "What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”
"I heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth," he continued. "But no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system. ... I stand behind the detectives' investigation."
Emanuel later addressed reporters and talked about both the financial and "ethical" cost of the case. Emanuel claimed Smollett’s forfeiture of a $10,000 bond didn't "come close" to what the city spent on resources investigating, and also said the case wasn't fair to victims of hate crimes who will now face more scrutiny and doubt.
"I'd like to remind everybody that a grand jury indicted this individual on only a piece of the evidence that police had collected," Emanuel said. “... This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer."
“He did this all in the name of self-promotion," he also claimed of Smollett. “He used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us through the years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in.”
Emanuel suggested that Smollett benefited from his fame when it came to not facing any charges.
"Where is the accountability in the system?" Emanuel asked. “You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else."
"Our officers did hard work day in and day out, working to unwind what actually happened that day," he continued. "The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud."
Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police Department, Anthony Guglielmi, also tweeted on Tuesday, "Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don't forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges."
Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don't forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges. https://t.co/P9rsvUMwwZ
In another statement to ET, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office shed more light on their decision.
"In the last two years, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution," the statement reads. "This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence. We stand behind the Chicago Police Department's investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett. The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped. This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances."
The actor's community service included volunteer work at Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which is dedicated to human rights.
"When we first heard of Jussie Smollett’s crisis, we reached out to him and Empire to see if we could be helpful. Jussie met with us and has given of himself to our organization and the movement for social justice," their statement to ET read, in part.
"We have members and supporters across the country and around the world. Many of our members and supporters give of themselves and their time to help achieve the goals of the organization. Jussie is a member of our organization. He, like many other members, has given of his time and talent and continues to do so," the statement continued. "During this period of disruption to his life and livelihood, Jussie has spent time here helping to advance this important work. There was no court-ordered community service here."
A rep for the coalition told ET that the actor volunteered 8 hours on Saturday, March 23rd and 8 hours on Monday, March 25th. According to the rep, the actor worked in the bookstore where he sold merchandise, critiqued the coalition’s Saturday broadcast and spoke to students and parents who visited the coalition.
Smollett’s volunteer work was not court ordered.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21 after being charged with felony disorderly conduct. On March 14, he pleaded not guilty to the 16 felony counts he was indicted on. The counts focused on him allegedly making false statements to two different Chicago Police officers. When reporting the alleged January attack, Smollett claimed that he was assaulted by two masked men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck.
"As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on his face were most likely self-inflicted," Johnson alleged. " ... Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
"First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and who have showed me so much love," he said. "No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will be forever grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every 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 of."
"This has been an incredibly difficult time," he continued. "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 would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t. Now I’d 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 for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much."
Smollett's attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, said court records have been sealed for Smollett's case.
"I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred," she told reporters. "I can just say things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control. We've gotten to a result that is the right result in this case and we're happy for that."