Prosecutor Told Cops To Stop Smollett Investigation Weeks Before Plea Deal
Chicago, IL – No one from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office ever requested that Chicago police turn over the case evidence on their investigation into “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett before they dismissed all 16 felony charges against him on March 26.
Nearly 500 pages of case files from the Smollett investigation were released on Thursday after a judge ordered the records unsealed, WBBM reported.
The documents clearly show why then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were so furious after prosecutors announced that the charges against Smollett had been dropped.
It turned out that after Smollett was indicted on 16 charges by a grand jury on Feb. 28, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had notified the Chicago Police Department of the impending disposition of the case, WBBM reported.
But the state’s attorney’s office told Chicago police that the actor would have to pay $10,000 in restitution, do community service, and admit his guilt in the Jan. 29 hoax attack he perpetrated on himself.
The admission of guilt never happened.
In fact, when prosecutors announced that all charges against Smollett had been dropped on March 26 in exchange for 16 hours of community service at the Reverend Jessie Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the $10,000 he’d paid to be bailed out of jail after his arrest, no mention was made of the actor’s guilt or innocence.
"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," Tandra Simonton, chief communications officer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, said at the time.
Smollett and his team did their best to spin the news as a declaration of his innocence and the actor gave an impassioned speech along the lines of a victory dance outside the courthouse after the charges were dropped.
Documents released on May 30 revealed that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had told Chicago police to stop investigating the Smollett case on the same day the actor was indicted.
In the final report that closed out the Smollett case a month later, a detectives wrote that “Once Smollett was indicted by the Grand Jury on February 28, 2019, CPD was informed by the [Cook County State's Attorney's Office] that they could no longer investigate" the hoax crime, CWBChicago reported.
Risa Lanier, one of the prosecutors who worked on Smollett’s case, told the detective on the day of the indictment that her office would needed all evidence by March 11.
However, the recently unsealed case file showed prosecutors never requested the case evidence prior to dismissing the charges against the actor.
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.
The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against Smollett for the cost of the police overtime accumulated while investigating his fake hoax crime.