All charges were dropped against Jussie Smollett, the black, openly gay actor who was charged with filing a false police report about being the victim of a hate crime in January.
Yet, despite that ruling on March 29, neither outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel nor Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is ready to let the case go.
Despite Smollett’s unwavering assertion that he was indeed attacked and did not stage the incident himself, Emanuel has spoken out repeatedly against the actor and demanded Smollett pay the city $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation including police overtime pay.
On April 6, Smollett attorney Mark Geragos warned the city in a letter to Emanuel, Johnson and the Chicago Police Department.
“Your letter represents part of a course of conduct intended to harass and irreparably injure Mr. Smollett,” Geragos wrote. “Our research discloses no cases in which the municipal ordinance to try to get a second bite at the apple once charges against a criminal defendant have been dismissed.”
Also, Geragos stated that the “Empire” actor “will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”
Geragos said he and Smollett’s legal team would insist on questioning Emanuel, Johnson and other key players in the case if the city pursues a lawsuit.
“In light of their apparent vested interest in the matter, we are confident that Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent Johnson will not object to providing their testimony under oath,” Geragos wrote in the letter. “Mr. Smollett’s preference remains, however, that this matter be closed and that he be allowed to move on with his life.”
Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx, who has been under fire for dropping the charges, said in recent news reports, “There’s some people who were never gonna be satisfied unless Mr. Smollett spent many nights in prison, and then there were others who believed that the charging of 16 counts of disorderly conduct was excessive. Right now, there’s a lot of emotion. And I wholeheartedly believe that in our work we cannot be driven by emotions. We have to be driven by facts.”
Emanuel and Johnson have ignored the facts. They have yet to address that Abel and Ola Osundairo, the initial suspects in the allegations, changed their story.
They claimed Smollett paid them to stage the attack, but the brothers were never arrested.
On March 14, the brothers said the check they got from Smollett was for personal training as the actor had maintained. The brothers said they had staged the attack on Smollett “as a favor” to the actor.
But new information shows that the CPD provided a six-night hotel stay with separate rooms and 24-hour security to the pair, according to investigative reports released to the Associated Press.
The hotel rooms were reportedly part of an effort to avoid the media as detectives investigated Smollett’s report that he was assaulted in January by a pair of men in downtown Chicago. The heavily redacted reports blotted out the names of the Osundairos, but the context makes it clear that the brothers were maintained from Feb. 15-21 at Chicago South Loop Hotel. The police paid for the hotel and the security. “Assistance for food and incidentals were also provided,” one report said.
Members of law enforcement met with the men at the hotel, stopped at restaurants to get meals for them and drove the pair and their attorney to court, escorting them into the courthouse through a back entrance to avoid the media, according to reports.
The men were arrested Feb. 13 at O’Hare Airport. They were released without charges within two days after claiming Smollett orchestrated the attack for $3,500. The brothers were taken to the hotel after their release.
Chicago police also have said Smollett was never handcuffed, placed in a cell or “subjected to the media” while in an officer’s presence.
Smollett’s lawyers have tried to shift attention back to the brothers, saying investigators should look into their role in the alleged attack.
“The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him,” defense attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said after all 16 charges against Smollett were dropped.
According to the police reports, one of the Osundairo brothers told the police after testifying to the grand jury that it felt good to tell the truth — but still felt that police may want to charge him.
One of the Osundairo brothers told the police that he had put bleach into an El Yucateco hot-sauce bottle and poured it on Smollett, according to the reports.
And while “Empire” co-star Taraji P. Henson told “The View” that Smollett would definitely be returning to the show if the network decides to renew the drama for a sixth season, Fox has not said that.