In an unexpected turn of events, the charges against Jussie Smollett have all been dismissed.
After making an emergency court appearance on Tuesday (March 26) in Chicago, the 36-year-old Empire actor is no longer facing charges. He was charged in February for allegedly filing a false police report claiming he was a hate crime victim.
In a statement to ET, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said the following:
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’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.”
They followed this up by releasing another statement, explaining their decision:
“In the last two years, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution. This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence.
We stand behind the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett.
The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett’s agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped. This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances.”
Jussie’s lawyer likewise released a statement about the decision, stating the Jussie was really attacked that fateful January 29:
“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.
Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. 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.
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.”
His family responded to Jussie’s charges being dropped by declaring in a statement:
“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. 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.”
Empire’s official Twitter account had a short, simple response to this turn of events:
“See y’all Wednesday.”
Meanwhile, both Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are slamming the prosecution’s decision, with Johnson stating:
“Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.
I heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth. But no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system. … I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.”
And Mayor Emanuel had this to say:
“I’d like to remind everybody that a grand jury indicted this individual on only a piece of the evidence that police had collected… This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.
He did this all in the name of self-promotion. He used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us through the years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in… Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else.
Our officers did hard work day in and day out, working to unwind what actually happened that day. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud.”
CPD Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted:
“Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don’t forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges.”
And Jussie has also broken his silence on the outcome. He and his lawyers held a press conference after the decision was made, and he said:
“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 and who have showed me so much love, No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will be forever grateful.
I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.
This has been an incredibly difficult time. Honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.
Now I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again, thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much.”