Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson stood by his investigators’ findings that Jussie Smollett committed a “hoax” when the “Empire” actor filed a police report in late January claiming he was the victim of a hate crime.
On Tuesday, the Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney’s Office announced it was dropping all 16 felony counts against Smollett relating to filing a false police report and sealed the criminal investigation record, Fox News reported. If convicted, Smollett faced the possibility of serving years in jail.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told reporters that the 36-year-old actor would only have to do community service and had agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail bond to the city.
Smollett, who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, alleged he was attacked by two men who put a noose around his neck. He claimed at least one of the two was white and yelled, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Magats pointed out the agreement is not an “exoneration” of Smollett, and the prosecutor still believes he filed a false police report, based on the facts uncovered by investigators.
Nonetheless, the state’s attorney characterized the agreement as a fair and just outcome in the case.
At a news conference Tuesday, Johnson disagreed, telling 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.”
Johnson hit the state’s attorney’s office for not consulting with his department prior to making its announcement.
“Prosecutors have their discretion, of course, we still have to work with the state’s attorney’s office. We’ll have conversations after this,” he said.
Johnson said unequivocally, “At the end of the day it was Smollett who committed this hoax.”
In a statement responding to the state’s attorney’s decision not to prosecute, Smollett’s lawyers contended their client was the victim of a “rush to judgment.”
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” they said. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel laid into Smollett for still claiming to be innocent.
“Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent,” Emanuel said. “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,” the mayor said. “He says, in fact, that he is the wronged in this case.”
“Is there no decency in this man?” Emanuel asked.
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