Jussie Smollett’s charges of making a false police report in Chicago on January 29 have been dropped by prosecutors. The Chicago Tribune’s Madeline Buckley reports that the state has asked the judge in the case to “nolle charges” against the “Empire” star. This means that Smollett will not be prosecuted and that his criminal record will be “expunged” and the case will be sealed.
Smollett had been facing 16 counts in total, all relating to falsifying a police report. In announcing the charges against Smollett, the Chicago Police Department said that he had orchestrated the attack because he was unhappy with his salary on “Empire.”
A statement from the Smollett family following the development read, “Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. “.. “He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated.” In a statement asserting his innocence, Smollett said, “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of doing what I was accused of.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Smollett Will Forego His Bond in the Case & Perform Community Service
Smollett will forego his bond in the case and has agreed to perform community service. His bond had been set at $100,000. Fox Chicago’s Rager Weigel reports that the charges were dropped “because he already did community service.” Weigel notes that it’s unclear when the actor did that community service. The Fox reporter later tweeted, “The community service according to #Smollett defense team was done prior for something not related to this case. It just gets more confusing.”
It had been reported that the prosecution case against Smollett was not solid. A $3,500 check paid to Ola and Abel Osundairo, which prosecutors said was a fee for orchestrating the attack, was actually for personal training.
A statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office read, “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 disposition and appropriate resolution in this case.”
2. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson Is ‘Furious’ About the Dropping of the Charges
CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar tweeted that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is “furious” that the charges against Smollett were dropped. De Mar reports that Johnson was not aware that the charges were going to be dropped. Johnson is expected to speak on March 26 at the Chicago Police Department’s academy graduation. Johnson learned of the dropping of the charges while at the event.
On February 21, Smollett handed himself into Chicago cops to answer to one count of felony disorderly conduct as he was accused of making a false police report. Police Superintendent Johnson announced the arrest in a press conference on the same day. Johnson began the press conference by stating his wish that the victims of gun violence in Chicago got as much attention from the media as Smollett’s case did. Johnson referred to Smollett’s case as a “publicity stunt.” Johnson said that Smollett orchestrated the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
3. Smollett’s Lawyers Say the Actor Is the Victim in the Case & That He’s Looking Forward to Focusing on His Career
A statement from Smollett’s lawyers said in part, “He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment… Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career.” The press release also 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.”
4. On March 26, Smollett’s Team Sent Out an Advisory Saying There Would Be a ‘Huge’ Development in His Case
Anne Kavanagh, a publicist for Smollett’s attorney, sent out a media alert on the morning of March 26 to say that there would be a “huge” development in the case, reports the Chicago Tribune. Smollett had said that in the early hours of January 29, he was beaten up in a racist and homophobic assault. The singer and actor said that his two assailants poured bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck. Smollett was later treated in a local hospital for superficial injuries. Smollett had said that the men yelled, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan.
5. An FBI Investigation Into the Threatening Letters That Got Sent to Smollett Goes on
When Supt. Johnson announced the charges against Smollett, he also accused the actor of being responsible for the threatening letters that were sent to “Empire’s” studio. That claim was disputed by federal authorities, reported TMZ on February 22. The sending of those letters remains an active investigation.