Prosecutors on Tuesday abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett, defense attorneys said, apparently abandoning the case barely five weeks after the “Empire” actor was accused of lying to police about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago.
The mayor and police chief blasted the decision and stood by the investigation that concluded Smollett staged a hoax. A visibility angry Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called it “a whitewash of justice” and lashed out at Smollett. He asked, “Is there no decency in this man?”
Smollett’s attorneys said his record had “been wiped clean” of the 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was assaulted by two men. The actor insisted that he had “been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
“I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was being accused of,” he told reporters after a court hearing. He thanked the state of Illinois “for attempting to do what’s right.”
It was not immediately clear what prompted the decision to dismiss the case. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors’ office offered no detailed explanation.
“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,” the statement from spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.
Smollett paid $10,000 in bail to get out of jail after his arrest.
Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility. Outside court, neither Smollett nor his legal team appeared to concede anything about his original report.
Defense attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said Smollett was “attacked by two people he was unable to identify” and “was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.”
Authorities alleged Smollett knew the men and arranged for them to pretend to attack him.