Prosecutors drop all 16 charges against Jussie Smollett

Florence Anthony | 3/26/2019, 11:28 a.m.
Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett say charges alleging he lied to police about attack have been dropped.
Jussie Smollett Chicago Police Department

Talk about life imitating art! Reminiscent of an episode of “Empire” in which his character Jamal Lyon accidentally kills Taye Diggs’ character Angelo DuBois and there were no consequences, Jussie Smollett walked out of a Chicago courthouse March 26, after all 16 charges were dropped against him in the case where he was accused of falsely reporting a hate crime against himself in late January.

Although a statement from Illinois State Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said: “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 bond to the city of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” Chicago prosecutor Joe Magats, who dropped the charges, has said, “we did not exonerate him,” amid criticism by the city’s mayor and police. Magats also stressed that he did not believe Smollett was a “threat to public safety.”

During an angry press conference, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, “$10,000 doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources. And he [Smollett] did this all in the name of self-promotion.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he stood by his department’s work and believed charges against Smollett were justified.

While many legal eagles speculate that a deal may have been reached because there is no actual footage of the attack, reports say text messages and emails reveal prosecutor Kim Foxx and Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, attorney Tina Tchen, communicated about the Smollett case. They reveal Tchen asking Foxx to intercede on Smollett’s behalf, confirming that the two were working behind the scenes to get Smollett out of the 16 charges. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Foxx asked Superintendent Johnson to turn over the investigation of Smollett’s reported attack to the FBI. Foxx later recused herself from the case.

Following the deal which totally wiped his slate clean, a relieved Smollett told reporters: “First of all, I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago, and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me, who have shown me so much love. No one will ever know how much that’s meant to me and I will be forever grateful.” He added that he has been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.” Smollett concluded his speech with: “But make no mistake, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. Again, thank you for all the support, thank you for faith, and thank you to God. Bless you all. Thank you very much.” 

20th Century Fox, which produces “Empire,” added: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are grateful that all charges against him have been dismissed.”

It is unclear what will now happen to brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who claimed Smollett hired them to carry out the alleged attack. Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, stated that she would like to see them arrested. Earlier this month, their attorney released a statement to CBS Chicago, saying that the two men felt “tremendous regret” for being involved with the situation.