Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have some good news after an emergency court hearing in Chicago on Tuesday morning, according to a statement from Smollett’s legal team.
ABC journalist Stephanie Wash tweeted out the statement from Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes, Smollett’s attorneys. The statement indicates that all criminal charges against Smollett have been dropped. Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for filing a police report.
Charges against Jussie Smollett have been dropped by the state and his record has been wiped clean. pic.twitter.com/lHpLvBGc3S
— Stephanie Wash (@WashNews) March 26, 2019
“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett have been dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” the statement reads. “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29. 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 says Smollett was “hurt” by these “unfair and unwarranted actions.”
“This entire case is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion,” the statement reads.
In a brief press conference outside the courthouse, Smollett thanked his friends and family and those who stood by him.
“I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain,” he said, Variety reports. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
He continued, “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 a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”
“Now I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much.”
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond, we believe this outcome is a just disposition & appropriate resolution to this case,” an attorney for Cook County said, according to a tweet from ABC journalist T.J. Holmes.
“After reviewing all of the facts & circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community & agreement to forfeit his bond.. we believe this outcome is a just disposition & appropriate resolution to this case.” -- Cook Co Attorney #JussieSmollett
— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) March 26, 2019
In a statement, Smollett’s family called him “an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared.”
“This morning the truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated,” the statement reads. “While many were quick to rush to judgment before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light.”
Here's a statement from the Smollett family after the Chicago PD has dropped charges against Jussie Smollett. pic.twitter.com/ZEuwXGKodm
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) March 26, 2019
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed prosecutors for dropping the charges against Smollett, calling it a “whitewash of justice” on Tuesday, NBC News reports. “At the end of the day,” Emanuel told reporters, “it’s Mr. Smollett that committed this false claim.”
“Is there no decency in this man?” Emanuel asked of Smollett. He said that this case will “cast a shadow” on all future alleged hate crime cases.
“He did this all in the name of self-promotion,” the mayor said. Emanuel went a step further and compared the dropped charges to the college admissions scandal where rich families offered money to get their students entry to prestigious schools.
“You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules applying to everybody else,” he said.
Police superintendent Eddie Johnson weighed in, as well, at the same event.
“Do I think justice was served? No,” Johnson said. “I think this city is still owed an apology.”
According to a tweet sent out by local WGN reporter Nancy Loo, because the judge sealed the case, police cannot release information about evidence they had gathered. A source told Loo that about 80 percent of the evidence had not yet been made public.
DEVELOPING: Because judge sealed the #JussieSmollett case, by law @Chicago_Police can no longer share their reports and what evidence they had gathered. Source says 80% had not yet been made public. @WGNNews
— Nancy Loo (@NancyLoo) March 26, 2019
Smollett originally told police that the was the victim of an alleged racist and homophobic attack in the early hours of Jan. 29 near his Chicago home. He said the attackers yelled that this was “MAGA country.” He also said that the attackers poured bleach on him and put a rope around his neck. Police later alleged that Smollett paid two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 to carry out the attack. The Osundairo brothers also told police Smollett paid them to carry out the attack.
Smollett was eventually charged with filing a false police report after Chicago police spoke to the brothers. The charge was a class 4 felony, which has the possibility of a 3-year sentence. Smollett turned himself in on February 21 and was later released on $100,000 bail. He was forced to surrender his passport due to being deemed a flight risk.
A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 counts of filing a false police report, as the jury counted each separate part of the story — that two men hit him, that they yelled racial and homophobic slurs, etc. — as a separate falsehood.
As Chicago PD investigated the case, Empire announced they could cut Smollett from the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season. An episode that aired in March after news of Smollett’s indictment was the lowest-rated episode in the show’s history.