[BBC NEWS – March 26th, 2019]:– Prosecutors have dropped all charges against US actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack.
The Empire star attended a court hearing in Chicago on Tuesday, where a judge sealed the case. Mr Smollett, 36, pleaded not guilty this month to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police.
The city’s mayor denounced the prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges as a “whitewash of justice”.
Mr Smollett told reporters after his court appearance: “I have 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’ve been accused of.”
(Jussie Smollett, 36)
The office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx said in a statement: “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.”
It remains unclear why prosecutors dropped the charges against Mr Smollett. Chicago police Supt Eddie Johnson said he was not briefed on the decision to drop the charges. Though police provide the state’s attorney office with evidence, it is ultimately up to prosecutors whether to pursue a case.
Mr Smollett voluntarily agreed to give up his $10,000 (£7,500) bail money, his lawyer said, emphasizing there had been no deal with state prosecutors. Supt Johnson said in a news conference on Tuesday that he felt justice had not been served and “the city is still owed an apology”. “If someone falsely accused me I would never hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy,” he told reporters. “At the end of the day it was Mr Smollett who committed this hoax. Period.”
(Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accused Mr Smollett of fabricating a hate crime “all in the name of self-promotion”, adding that he took “no sense of ownership of what he’s done”. The mayor added the case would cast a shadow over genuine hate crimes as they decide whether to come forward.