The nation was in shock Tuesday after former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett had all 16 felony charges against him dropped.
The openly gay black actor was accused of faking a hate crime attack against himself involving two men who allegedly yelled “This is MAGA country!” as they screamed racist and anti-gay slurs at him. Smollett has maintained that he’s a victim.
On Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement saying, “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 [$10,000] bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution in this case.”
Smollett’s record will now be fully expunged, and a judge has granted a motion to seal the case.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats revealed more Tuesday afternoon about why the charges were dropped, but he made it clear that he didn’t see Smollett’s as innocent. His explanation was jaw-dropping.
That explanation didn’t make the Chicago Police or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel any happier. They were already convinced Smollett faked the hate attack based on mountains of evidence and the confessions of the two brothers involved.
They were beyond livid while speaking at an early afternoon press conference.
“Do I think justice was served? No,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “I think this city is still owed an apology.”
“I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth, but, no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system,” he continued, condemning the Smollett’s legal team and the prosecutor’s office.
“Where is the accountability in the system?” demanded Emanuel, who spoke next.
“You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules applied to them, and another set of rules applied to everybody else,” he continued.
The mayor suggested that Smollett was benefiting from having a privileged position and compared it to kids whose rich parents were recently accused of buying their kids’ admissions into prestigious universities.
“At the end of the day, it is Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period,” Johnson also said. “If he wanted to clear his name, the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence.”
“I stand by the facts of what we produced,” he continued. “If they want to dispute those, the place to do that is in court, not [in] secrecy.”
“This $10,000 doesn’t even come close to what this city spent in resources to actually look over the camera [footage], gather all the data, gather all the information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many, multiple different charges” Emanuel pointed out, referring to the bond money Smollett’s legal team agreed to let the city keep.
He also blasted Smollett for abusing new hate crime laws by faking a hate crime, saying that because of this there “is a cost that comes to all the individuals — gay men and women — who will one day come forward to say they were a victim of a hate crime who will now be doubted, people of faith — Muslim or of any other religious faith — who will be victim of hate crimes, [and] people of all walks of life and background — race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. Now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth.”
“And he did this all in the name of self-promotion,” Emanuel said.
“This is a whitewash of justice!”
But the mayor wasn't done yet: "Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare him! How dare him! Still no sense of ownership of what he's done. This is a person who's been let off scot-free with no sense of accountability to the moral and ethical wrong of his actions."
"Is there no decency in this man?"
Johnson and Emanuel said that they found out that Smollett’s charges were being dropped the same time the public did. They were not notified ahead of time.
Watch the full press conference below (skip ahead to the 1 hour, 5-minute mark):