Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have blasted the Cook County State’s Attorney for dropping the disorderly conduct case against Jussie Smollett.
The Empire actor had pleaded not guilty to 16 felony charges after he was accused of lying to police about being assaulted by racists outside his apartment in Chicago, Illinois on 29 January (19).
Police superintendent Johnson claimed he had staged the incident to raise his profile and his earning potential, citing witness statements from brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who had initially been interviewed as possible suspects, but agreed to testify against the TV star after alleging that Smollett had paid them to pull off the attack.
The case had been due to go to trial, but on Tuesday (26Mar19), it was revealed that all criminal counts against Smollett had been dropped.
Johnson addressed the surprising news during a press conference hours after the State’s Attorney’s office announcement, and didn’t hold back in his thoughts on what he considered to be a strong case.
“Smollett committed this hoax,” he said. “Do I think justice was served? No. I think this city is still owed an apology.”
He then suggested the defense team had brokered a deal with prosecutors to “circumvent the judicial system”, insisting he supports the work of his department.
“My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the State’s Attorney. That’s what we did,” he added. “I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also slammed the State Attorney’s decision, stating, “This is a whitewash of justice…”
He still believes Smollett “committed this false claim,” and he has vowed to find out how the actor managed to escape charges.
“We’re looking at the state’s attorney,” he said. “It’s not on the level from beginning to end and there needs to be a level of accountability throughout the system, and this sends an ambiguous message that there is no accountability and that is wrong.”
Taking aim at Smollett for comments he made following the dismissal of the case, when he insisted he had been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Emanuel spat, “How dare him? How dare him?
“This is a person now who has been let off scot-free with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions. Is there no decency in this man?”
Meanwhile, Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, has denied suggestions that a deal was made, although she confirmed her client’s case had been sealed, without offering up an explanation.
“I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred (to have the charges dropped),” 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.”
Fox network officials behind Empire have also shared their content at the news.
“Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed,” read a statement released by spokesperson Chris Alexander.
The actor had been written out of the final two episodes of the current season five, but is expected to return for future installments.
– Cover Media0