It was surprisingly announced on Tuesday that the state’s attorney’s office in Chicago had dropped all 16 felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett for filing false police reports and expunged the records of anything having to do with his arrest. There was an explosion of indignant outrage across the country that an apparently guilty celebrity was allowed to walk free without paying any sort of retribution for his crime.
The outrage was not partisan, either, as Smollett and the prosecutors were slammed by both Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and liberal Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who disgustedly described the unexpected development as a “whitewash of justice.”
In what many viewed as a tacit admission of guilt by Smollett in what is widely believed to have been a hoax hate crime, he agreed to forfeit the $10,000 bond he had posted following his arrest. Aside from that forfeiture, however, Smollett has still insisted that he is an innocent victim.
But Emanuel noted Tuesday that the amount didn’t come close to covering the cost to the city of the investigation and now has said on Thursday in a radio interview that he intends to send Smollett a bill for the full costs incurred by the city and police department in his case.
Emanuel made an appearance Thursday morning on WGN Radio with host Steve Cochran and praised the work of the Chicago police in investigating what had first been reported as a racist and homophobic hate crime against Smollett in January, but has since been revealed to have most likely been Smollett’s own perpetrated hoax.
The mayor first noted the disparity between the evidence by the police of a hoax that led to felony charges versus the claims of Smollett and his lawyers that he was the victim of a hate crime. He pointed out the obvious fact that it couldn’t be both at the same time.
“Out of the blue, with no knowledge, all of a sudden you have a situation where charges are dropped … charges are cleared, it’s all sealed, $10,000, quote-unquote ‘community service’ in which that’s not in the court records … and there’s no sense of contrite, no remorse, no sense of responsibility,” Emanuel said.
“And our officers did a great job. They took a crime that was called a hate crime for sexual orientation and for race, they took it seriously and dedicated the resources to deal with it, to find who perpetrated it, and we found out the person calling the police was the perpetuator. That is what the grand jury believed,” he added.
Emanuel noted that he had been blindsided by the decision just as much as everyone else and said it appeared as though “the scales of justice were tipped for those with influence. The police are right now finalizing the cost that was used — police resources — to come to the understanding that this was in fact a hoax and not a real hate crime, what we spent,” he said.
“Once the Corporation Council have it finalized and feel good about the numbers, then they’ll send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorneys trying to recoup those costs for the city.”
“It is a small way of both acknowledging, one, guilt, and two, that we spent these resources and the taxpayers deserve at a minimum — because I think there is a whole level of, as I said the other day, ethical costs. Because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent. Everything I said from day one is true,'” the mayor added.
Emanuel reiterated that aside from recovering the costs of the investigation, there remained a need to establish one way or the other whether a hate crime or hoax had been committed. He also took a shot at President Donald Trump, undoubtedly in reference to a tweet from the president Thursday morning that characterized what happened with Smollett as “an embarrassment to our Nation!”, by suggesting that Trump “sit this one out.”
It remains to be seen what the Chicago Police Department’s final bill for resources spent will be, but the U.K. Daily Mail reported that Emanuel had estimated Wednesday that it could be around $150,000, or roughly 15 times what Smollett had paid by virtue of his forfeited bond.
Mayor Emanuel is absolutely right to be outraged by this “whitewash of justice” and demand restitution from Smollett for the resources spent to investigate the apparent hoax.
After that, there needs to be a serious look into the state’s attorney’s office to see if undue influence was exerted on Smollett’s behalf and, at a minimum, the city and nation as a whole deserve a full-fledged and sincere apology from Smollett, particularly the white Trump supporters he maligned and smeared with his initial bogus claims of a hate crime.
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