Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel voiced his displeasure with prosecutors’ decision to drop all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, as well as the actor’s continued claim he is innocent of filing a false police report.
Last month Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters that Smollett staged a racist and anti-gay attack against himself in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago.
The police chief recounted that the television star first sought attention by mailing himself a made-up death threat letter at his workplace “that relied on racial, homophobic and political language.”
When that failed to gain traction in the media, Smollett paid two African-American men $3,500 to stage the attack, according to Johnson.
Smollett told police that at least one of the attackers was white and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
On Tuesday, lawyers for Smollett released a statement saying all 16 felony counts related to making a false report had been dropped and claiming their client was the victim of a “rush to judgement.”
Emanuel and Johnson held a news conference after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s decision, during which the mayor hammered Smollett for still claiming innocence.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said. “A grand jury could not have been clearer.”
“Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent,” he added. “Still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare him? How dare him? This is not the superintendent’s word against his.”
JUST IN: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: “Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare him?”
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 26, 2019
“The grand jury (saw) a sliver of the evidence (and) came to a conclusion, as did the state’s attorney’s office … And even after this whitewash, still no sense of ownership of what he’s done. He says, in fact, that he is the wronged in this case.”
“Is there no decency in this man?” the mayor asked.
The State’s Attorney’s Office did not say that Smollett was innocent of wrongdoing when it announced the charges were being dropped.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told reporters the agreement reached with the 36-year-old actor is not an “exoneration” of Smollett, and the prosecutor still believes he filed a false police report, based on the facts uncovered by investigators.
Rather than face years of possible jail time if convicted, Smollett is only required to perform community service and has agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail bond to the city.
Emanuel said the $10,000 did not even come close to paying the cost to the city of investigating Smollett’s alleged hate crime attack, which ultimately resulted in a multi-count indictment against the actor.
Nonetheless, Magats characterized the agreement as a fair and just outcome in the case.
Johnson disagreed, saying to reporters, “You all know where I stand on this. Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”
CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson responds to charges being dropped against Jussie Smollett: “They chose to hide behind secrecy and brokered a deal to circumvent the judicial system.” pic.twitter.com/7k9KK0J4AG
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) March 26, 2019
“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 said. “I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.”
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