Illinois State prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against actor Jussie Smollett on Tuesday as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, angering law enforcement officials and Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel.
By: Harry Cherry
Cook County State Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx, who has close personal ties to Mr. Smollett and former First Lady Michelle Obama, recused herself from the case weeks ago.
Newly available personal correspondence between Ms. Fox and Christina M. Tchen, Ms. Obama’s former Chief of Staff, leaves many questioning the handling of the case against Mr. Smollet.
“Spoke to the superintendent earlier, he made the ask. Trying to figure out logistics. I’ll keep you posted,” Ms. Tchen wrote in one text message to Ms. Fox.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Cook County State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
As part of Tuesday’s deferred prosecution agreement, Mr. Smollett agreed to face the prospect of his bond not being returned. Prosecutors cited previous community service by Mr. Smollett as reasoning for the decision.
“From top to bottom, this is not on the level,” Mr. Emanuel said Tuesday at a press conference, reacting to the announcement that the criminal charges against Mr. Smollett were dropped. “There needs to be a level of accountability throughout the system, and this sends an ambiguous message that there is no accountability and that is wrong.”
“It’s not the Chicago police saying [the attack was staged],” Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s the evidence, the facts and the witnesses that are saying it.”
Fox News reported that following news that the charges against Smollett were dropped, the “Empire” actor’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, told a press conference Tuesday there was “no deal” and the “state dismissed the charges.”
When then asked by a reporter if she had anything to say to the Chicago Police Department, Holmes responded: “We have nothing to say to the police department except to investigate charges and not try their cases in the press but to allow matters to be investigated.”
In a stunning reversal Tuesday morning, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all the charges against Smollett, 36, in an alleged hate crime hoax.
Fox News also reported that Smollett, who posed with fans outside the courthouse soon after the news was announced, thanked his friends and family for standing by him. He also thanked the state of Illinois for “attempting to do what’s right.”
“Not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve 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 was accused of.”
Smollett called the attack and the months that followed “an incredibly difficult time.”