Chicago PD Starts Sharing Smollett Case File Then Court Orders Them To Stop
Chicago, IL – The Chicago Police Department released two investigative reports from “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s case on Wednesday morning, just one day after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against the actor.
An hour after the files were released, the Chicago PD received a court order barring them from releasing any further files in the Smollett investigation, FOX News reported.
Smollett had been facing 16 felony disorderly conduct charges for orchestrating a hoax attack on himself that he reported to the police as a hate crime by white supporters of President Donald Trump.
"After reviewing all 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," said Tandra Simonton, chief communications officer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The judge ruled that the file should be sealed and Smollett’s record cleared.
The Cook County Clerk's Office told ABC that the entire case had been cleared from their database, as if it had never existed.
Smollett and his legal team held a celebratory press conference in front of the court house after the “emergency hearing” to dismiss his charges and claimed the prosecutor’s decision was vindication and proof the actor had been telling the truth.
However, the prosecutor who brought charges against Smollett said they weren’t dropped because the actor is innocent.
“I do not believe he is innocent,” First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told WBBM.
Magats, who took over the case when Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had to recuse herself for attempting to help his family get the investigation transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said he was the one who made the decision to drop the 16 felony counts against Smollett.
“Based on all facts and circumstances of the case, and also keeping in mind resources and keeping in mind that the office’s number one priority is to combat violent crime and the drivers of violence, I decided to offer this disposition in the case,” he said.
Smollett performed 16 hours of community service for Reverend Jesse Jackson’s charity and forfeited his $10,000 bond to the city in exchange for having the charges dropped.
Magats issued further statements later in the day to clarify his position on Smollett's innocence, or lack thereof, and explain his decision to dismiss the charges.
"Here's the thing -- we work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime. Public safety is our number one priority. I don't see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety," he said, according to a tweet from the New York Times.
He said he saw no problems with the police investigation or the evidence against the actor but that the charges against him were dropped in return for his agreement to do community service and for forfeiting his bond to the city of Chicago, the New York Times tweeted.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were taken by surprise when the charges were dropped and said they were very unhappy.
Both city leaders appeared at a press conference Tuesday afternoon on Navy Pier shortly after the conclusion of police academy graduation.
"At the end of the day it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period. If he wanted to clear his name the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence," Superintendent Johnson said. "I stand by the facts of what we produced. If they want to dispute those facts the place to do that is in court."
The mayor called the dismissal of charges a “whitewash of justice,” several times.
Emanuel said that Smollett was getting special treatment.
"Where is the accountability in the system?” the mayor asked. “You cannot have because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else.”
The mayor said this is not a case of the police department’s word against Smollett, and that the actor has taking “no sense of ownership of what he’s done” and was still claiming he was the wronged party.
“This is a person now who has been let off scot free without any sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions… you have a person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people that are minorities from violence, then to turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward – is there no decency?” Emanuel ranted.
He was furious the case had been sealed by a judge, and said the city should be able to see everything because Smollett had repeatedly said he had nothing to hide.
“From top to bottom, this is not on the level… I also want to say and emphasize and underscore what the superintendent said, at the end of the day it’s Smollett who made the false claims,” the mayor declared.
Police released 61 pages of the Smollett case file on Wednesday morning that laid out, in detail, the investigative steps taken by detectives before the court order to cease the release was issued, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct on Feb. 20.
The 36-year-old actor turned himself in at the Chicago Police Department’s 1st District at 5 a.m. on Feb. 21, to face felony disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report. He was released on bond later the same day.
Chicago police have said they believe Smollett lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
He said police have obtained phone records that “clearly indicate” Smollett and the Osundairo brothers talked to each other quite a bit before and after the staged attack, as well as while the brothers were out of the country.
Superintendent Johnson also said that Smollett had beaten himself up before he went to the hospital.
“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attacked where they punched him a little bit. But as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted,” the superintendent explained.
He said that he believed the actor wanted the faked attack caught on camera, but the particular camera he chose to perform in front of wasn’t pointed the right direction.
The superintendent said chasing down bogus leads “put out in the universe” by the media wasted a lot of the police’s time during the investigation.
He said detectives interviewed more than 100 people, and located 35 police surveillance cameras and 20 private-sector security cameras along the route the Smollett claimed he took the night of the attack.
“These detectives deserve all the credit in the world for carefully analyzing the leads and evidence for weeks before coming to their conclusion,” Superintendent Johnson said.
Smollett pleaded not guilty to the initial felony disorderly conduct charge for having filed a fake police report. He claimed the $3,500 check to the Osundairo brothers was for training and nutritional guidance.
A grand jury indicted Smollett on the 16 felony disorderly conduct charges on March 8.
Smollett had been free on a $100,000 bond prior to the dismissal, the Chicago Tribune reported.