In a surprising twist in the US, Chicago prosecutors have dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of staging a fake hate crime.
Cook County State’s Attorney’s office issued a brief statement but did not say that Smollett had been exonerated.
“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 prosecutors’ office said.
Smollett has undertaken 16 hours of volunteer work and will forfeit a $10,000 bond payment, but Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, appearing with local police, told media the deal was a ‘Whitewash of Justice.’
“I’d like to remind everybody a grand jury indicted this individual based on only a piece of the evidence that the police had collected in that period of time. So a grand jury actually brought the charges,” Mayor Emanuel said.
“From top to bottom this is not on the level,” Emanuel said. “This sends an unambiguous message that there is no accountability, and that is wrong.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said “My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand in this. Do I think justice was served? No. I think this city is still owed an apology.”
Appearing outside court, Smollett thanked his supporters and claimed vindication.
“I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of,” he said.
Representatives for 20th Century FOX Television, said of its Empire star, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified on his behalf that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had earlier said she would recuse herself from the case, after having a conversation with a Smollett family member early in the investigation.