On Tuesday, Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against ‘Empire’ actor, Jussie Smollett, in connection with the alleged January attack.
Smollett faced 16 counts of disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging an attack against himself, claiming it was a hate crime. In a surprise announcement Tuesday, prosecutors said they feel they’ve reached an “appropriate” deal in the case, reported the Chicago Tribune.
The deal reached between Smollett and prosecutors is that the actor’s record will be wiped clean, but he will forfeit the $10,000 he paid to post bond.
After Judge Steven Watkins allowed the dismissal, Smollett’s attorneys released a scathing statement, slamming the Chicago PD for the way the investigation was handled.
“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 judgment.” The statement went on to say, "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. This is a stark reminder that victims should be respected before they are judged and crucified. Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. There should never be an attempt to prove a case in the ‘court of public opinion.’ A victim deserves dignity and respect.”
According to TMZ, the Empire star will not be prosecuted and the case is now officially, closed.
Following the announcement, Jussie Smollett spoke with the media. The Empire star 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, showed me so much love," he told reporters. "No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will forever be grateful."
After pointing out that, "not for a moment" was his conviction, "in vain," Jussie maintained his innocence, stressing that he has been telling the truth about his attack from the beginning.
"I have been truthful and consistent on every single level, since day one." He added, "I would not be my mother's son, if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of."
Describing the difficult ordeal as "one of the worst of my entire life," Jussie defended his honor, reassuring the public that he would not put his family at risk in the way that the Chicago authorities claimed he did.
"I am a man of faith, and 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," he said. "I just wouldn't."
He ended his statement by thanking his legal counsel and the state of Illinois for, "attempting to do what's right."
"Now, I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life," he continued. "But make no mistakes that I will always continue to fight for the justice and betterment of marginalized people, everywhere."
(Photo: JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty Images)