All criminal charges against Jussie Smollett dropped
All criminal charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett have been dropped by the Illinois state attorney’s office.
Smollett had faced 16 felony counts alleging he lied to police about a racial and homophobic attack against him in January.
“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” Smollett’s legal team said in a statement Tuesday. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th.”
WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s full statement outside court after charges dropped
The statement continued: “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 judgement.”
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. 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,” the statement concluded.
Judge Steven Watkins allowed the dismissal of all charges.
In a statement, prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton offered no detailed explanation.
The statement 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.”
Smollett had made a $10,000 bond payment to the city to get out of jail after his arrest on the charges.
This statement comes mere weeks after Smollett, 36, was indicted for allegedly filing a false police report. In February, he was charged with felony disorderly conduct after Chicago police said he orchestrated his own alleged hate-crime attack because he was unhappy with his salary on TV show Empire.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes formally announced that all charges have been dropped against the ‘Empire’ actor
Smollett’s family also released a statement saying, “Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of.”
The statement continued: “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. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared). The painful incidents we’ve witnessed him endure over the past 7 weeks have been heartbreaking and unjust to say the least.”
“While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time,” the statement concluded.
Smollett spoke following the announcement that the charges against him have been dropped.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” he said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
The Beautiful singer called himself “a man of faith” and said he wanted to move on from this.
“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,” he said.
Patricia Brown Holmes, Smollett’s lawyer, spoke to the media at the Cook County courthouse with Smollett.
“Today as you have figured out, the state made a motion to drop the charges against Jussie Smollett and to seal the record in this case,” she told reporters.
She added, “We believe that it was the correct result in this case. We’re very happy for this result. And we are very anxious for Jussie to get on with his career and his life and to move forward.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police chief have angrily criticized Smollett and the decision by prosecutors to drop all charges that alleged the Empire actor staged a racial and homophobic attack in the city in January.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, a visibly angry Emanuel called the decision a “whitewash of justice” and asked, “Where is the accountability in the system?”
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel declared. “It’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. He’s still saying he’s innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department. How dare he? How dare he?”
“It is wrong. Full stop,” Emanuel said. “From top to bottom, this is not on the level.”
“Is there no decency in this man?” Emanuel asked.
WATCH BELOW: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Jussie Smollett: Where is the accountability in the system?
Emanuel criticized Smollett for not taking any responsibility despite what he described as overwhelming evidence. He also says Smollett continues to drag Chicago’s reputation through “the mud.” His voice seeming to quiver with anger he said about Smollett, “Is there no decency in this man?”
Emanuel also said that Smollett had used hate-crime laws “to self-promote” his career. He said he was offended that the actor continues to profess his innocence.
“You have a person using hate-crime laws that are on the books to protect people who are minorities from violence, to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career?” Emanuel said. “Is there no decency in this man?”
WATCH BELOW: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lays into Jussie Smollett: How dare you?
Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Smollett still owns the city an apology.
WATCH BELOW: Chicago PD superintendent: City, police both ‘owed an apology’ on Smollett case
“At the end of the day, Mr. Smollett committed this hoax,” Johnson said. “Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”
Johnson added: “If you want to say you’re innocent of the situation, you take your day in court. … I would never hide behind a brokered deal in secrecy, period.”
WATCH BELOW: Chicago PD superintendent accuses Jussie Smollett of ‘hiding behind a brokered deal’
Smollett has not backtracked from his original story, insisting he’d been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
Smollett told police that two men dressed in black got his attention by mentioning the name Empire as he walked downtown early on Jan. 29. Smollett said the more aggressive man wore a black mask to conceal his face.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, said the men then shouted slurs, beat him in the face with their hands and poured an unknown substance on him that stained his clothes. He said the men tied a rope around his neck before running away, according to a brief police report released to the public following a Freedom of Information request by media outlets.
In his first interview since his alleged attack, Smollett wanted to address the rumours that he might not be telling the truth about the possible hate crime.
WATCH BELOW: Smollett’s lawyer says her client has dedicated his life to public service.
Smollett said he was “pissed off” on Feb. 14 during his Good Morning America interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts.
He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
He said he left his apartment to go to Walgreens, thinking it was open 24 hours, but ended up at Subway to get a salad.
He said he texted his manager, Brandon Moore, and left a message for Moore to call him.
Smollett said Moore called him back immediately. “While he was on the phone I heard, I was crossing the intersection, I heard ‘Empire!,’ Smollett told Roberts. “I don’t answer to ‘Empire.’ My name ain’t ‘Empire.’”
Smollett said he did not respond and kept walking but then he began to hear someone yell a racial slur. “So I turned around and said ‘What the f**k did you just say to me’ and I see the attacker masked,” Smollett said, appearing to get emotional. “He said ‘This MAGA country n****r’ and he punched me in the face so I punched his a** back.”
The Beautiful singer said they started fighting and ended up near some stairs, as a second person kicked him in his back.
The alleged attackers ran off and Smollett said he noticed his phone had fallen out of his pocket.
His manager was still on the phone and Smollett said he told Moore he had been jumped.
While he was on the phone he said he saw a rope.
“I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming ‘There’s a f***ing rope around my neck,” he said.
WATCH BELOW: ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett gives first interview since alleged attack
He said that he gave a description of his alleged attackers as best as he could.
Smollett said he’s seen the photo that police released of the persons of interest.
“For me, when that was released I was like ‘Ok, we are getting somewhere,’” Smollett said. “For me, I don’t have any doubt in my mind that’s them.”
The 36-year-old actor said, “I will never be the man that this did not happen to.”
“I am forever changed. I don’t subscribe to the idea everything happens for a reason, but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and the responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad,” he said.Follow @KatieScottNews
—With files from the Associated Press
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