The announcement by Chicago prosecutors on Tuesday that they were dropping all charges against the “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was the latest turn in a strange and twisting case. And it enraged the city’s own mayor and police superintendent.
Joe Magats, the prosecutor, said the charges were dropped after Mr. Smollett, accused of staging a hate crime attack in January, agreed to community service and to give up the $10,000 he paid for his release. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson soon denounced the decision and renewed their criticism of Mr. Smollett.
The contradictory statements from the city’s leadership showed how tangled and inflammatory the case has become. Here are Tuesday’s statements from Mr. Magats, Mr. Smollett’s lawyer, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Johnson, as well as Mr. Smollett, in their own words.
The prosecutor, Joe Magats: ‘We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett.’
“After reviewing all of 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.
In the last two years, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution. This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence. We stand behind the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett. The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett’s agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped.
This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances.”
Patricia Brown Holmes, Mr. Smollett’s lawyer: ‘It was the correct result.’
“Today, as you have figured out, the state made a motion to nolle pros the charges against Jussie Smollett and to seal the record in this case. We believe that it was the correct result in this case. We're very happy for this result. And we are very anxious for Jussie to get on with his career and his life and to move forward.
We have nothing to say to the police department except to investigate charges and not try their cases in the press but to allow matters to be investigated, allow the state to investigate, and to bring charges and not to jump ahead and utilize the press to convict people before they are tried in a court of law.”
[Watch the full remarks in the video above.]
Mayor Rahm Emanuel: This is a ‘whitewash of justice.’
“One thing is, not only do I support the hard work of our police officers, the detective unit, I’d like to remind everybody a grand jury indicted this individual based on only a piece of the evidence that the police had collected in that period of time. So the grand jury, actually, brought the charges. I think there are two things, three things I’d like to say.
One, on financial cost, this $10,000 doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in resources to actually look over the cameras, gather all the data, gather all the information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many multiple different charges.
Second, is what I would call the ethical cost. The ethical cost is as a person who was in the House of Representatives when we tried to pass the Shepard legislation that dealt with hate crimes, putting them on the books, that President (Barack) Obama then signed into law; to then use those very laws and the principles and values behind the Matthew Shepard hate crimes legislation to self-promote your career is a cost that comes to all the individuals.
Gay men and women who will come forward and one day say they were a victim of a hate crime now will be doubted. People of faith — Muslim or any other religious faith who will be a victim of hate crimes; people of also, of all walks of life, of backgrounds, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow of whether they’re telling the truth, and he did this all in the name of self-promotion. And he used the laws of the hate crime legislation that all of us collectively over years have put on the books to stand up to be the values that embody what we believe in.
This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.
To then say, not only is the cost $10,000 doesn’t come close financially, but all the other repercussions of this decision made, I mean, where is the accountability in the system? 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.”
[Read the full remarks by the mayor.]
Superintendent Eddie Johnson: ‘City is still owed an apology.’
“I’m sure we all know what occurred this morning. My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand on this.
Do I think justice was served? No.
Where do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.
And let me digress for a moment. When I came on this job — I’ve been a cop now for about 31 years — when I came on this job, I came on with my honor, my integrity and my reputation. And if someone accused me of doing anything that would circumvent that, then I would want my day in court. Period. To clear my name.
I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth. And now they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.
My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the state’s attorney. That’s what we did. I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.”
[A timeline of events of the Smollett case.]
Jussie Smollett: ‘I have been truthful and consistent.’
“First of all, I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me, who have shown me so much love.
No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will forever be grateful. 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 1. 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 a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.
So I want to thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart, and I would also like to thank the State of Illinois for attempting to do what’s right.
Now I’d like nothing more than to just 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 for god. Bless you all. Thank you very much.”
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