Jussie's Attorney Says City Owes Him Apology, Mayor Sends Him $130k Bill Instead
Chicago, IL – The city of Chicago sent a letter to “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on Thursday demanding timely payment of the $130,106.15 the police department spent on overtime to investigation the hoax hate crime the actor staged on himself.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his plans to send the bill to Smollett early in the afternoon on March 28, and before the end of the business day, the letter had been sent.
“The city feels this is a reasonable and legally just amount to help offset the cost of the investigation," said Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city of Chicago’s legal department, according to WMAQ.
Emanuel has expressed fury over the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s decision to drop all 16 felony charges against Smollett.
He told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he expected the actor and his attorneys to write the city of Chicago a check to pay for all the time and resources that were wasted investigating the staged crime, WMAZ reported.
"The police are assembling the cost [of the investigation]," the mayor explained. "They'll do that and then the corporation counsel of the city of Chicago will communicate to Jussie Smollett and his legal team about recouping that cost in that effort.”
“And, given that he doesn't feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section he can put the words, 'I'm accountable' for the hoax," he continued.
"The finance is a piece of it and an acknowledgement that what he did at every level was wrong," Emanuel said.
The mayor reminded reporters that the grand jury indicted Smollett and that prosecutors have admitted that they did not believe the actor was innocent.
“I think we’ve got to be clear about this,” Emanuel continued. “That there was an action here. In my view, that it was a hoax. And obviously the grand jury, more importantly that my view, the grand jury believed that. They were shown a sliver of evidence and they came to a conclusion.”
“And he has cost not only the city financially… but also a sense of the wrong he’s done by taking advantage of our values as a welcoming city that welcomes people of all walks of life, of all backgrounds to feel comfortable in the city,” the mayor said. “So when he does pay the city back… in that memo section he can write ‘I’m sorry and I’m accountable for what I’ve done.’”
Cook County prosecutors announced they had dropped all charges against Smollett on Tuesday.
"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.
It turns out that in exchange for making the case go away, all Smollett had to do was 16 hours of community service at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and forfeit the $10,000 bail he posted after he was arrested, WBBM reported.
Smollett addressed reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing and thanked people who have prayed for him and showed him “so much love” and continued to maintain his innocence.
“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since Day One,” Smollett told reporters. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time – honestly, one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith, and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives, or the movement through the fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”
His attorney even suggested that the police department and mayor should apologize to Smollett.
But 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, 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.
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.
It’s Smollett and his team’s insistence that the actor did nothing wrong that has really brought the ire of the mayor Chicago.
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.
On Thursday, one of Smollett’s attorneys suggested the actor had been attacked by men in “whiteface.”
Despite the copious quantities of evidence that the police investigation unearthed pointing to Smollett as his own attacker, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue the case.
During his celebratory speech outside the courthouse after his emergency hearing on Tuesday, Smollett continued to play the role of the victim.
“Now I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life, but make no mistake, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality, and betterment of marginalized people everywhere,” Smollett told reporters.