Criminal Charges Dropped Against ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett, Angering Authorities

Chicago prosecutors on Tuesday suddenly dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of allegedly setting up a fake hate crime against himself and filing a counterfeit police report.

The announcement comes after the actor was indicted earlier this month on 16 counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County grand jury. The actor appeared at an emergency court hearing on Tuesday morning, as the case was being dropped provided that Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 release bond, CNBC reported. CNN reported that the county’s top prosecutor recused herself “out of an abundance of caution,” basing its decision “to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case," according to spokesperson Tandra Simonton’s announcement almost a month ago. This time, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not explain why the 16 charges were abruptly dropped, and parts of the case will be sealed, CNN quoted one of the actor’s attorneys as saying. The decision has angered the Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called it “a whitewash of justice.”

“Where is the accountability in the system?” Emanuel said. “You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and one set of rules apply to everybody else,” adding that “our officers did hard work, day in and day out, countless hours, working to unwind what actually happened that night,” He went on to say that Smollett did this for the sake of self-promotion. “How dare you!” the mayor added. Johnson told reporters that his department found out the dismissal just like everybody else. "Do I think justice was served? No. ... They chose to hide behind secrecy in brokering a deal," he told reporters.

Following the decision, Smollett told the press that he has been “truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” and added that this was a very difficult time. "I want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart, and I would like to thank the state of Illinois for attempting to do what is right,” he said. “Thank you for all the support, thank you for faith and thank you to God."

Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said that police should instead focus on the two brothers the actor said attacked him. However, she told reporters, “We don’t want to try them in the press any more than [Smollett] wanted to be tried in the press.”


About the Author

Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.