Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was indicted by a special prosecutor in Chicago on Tuesday over a January 2019 attack against the actor, for which he was later of accused of filing a false report.
Tuesday’s indictment, handed out by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, charged Smollett with six counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett is specifically charged with making “four separate false reports” to the Chicago Police, regarding a Jan. 29, 2019 incident where he claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime.
“Based on the recommendation of the [Office of the Special Prosecutor], a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” the special prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The OSP later added that it “has obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] resolved the Smollett case.”
His arraignment is set for Feb. 24 at 9:30 a.m. CT.
Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, told TheWrap, “This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett’s pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.”
She continued, “After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”
Last year, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in connection with the attack against the “Empire” actor. He was accused of lying to police about the incident, in which he said he was randomly attacked by two men shouting racial and homophobic slurs in his Chicago neighborhood. He plead not guilty and had repeatedly maintained his innocence.
A little more than a month after he was first arrested, all 16 counts were suddenly dropped by Cook County against Smollett in return for the actor forfeiting his bond to the city of Chicago and community service. That decision was heavily criticized by both the Chicago Police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In June, a Cook County Judge appointed a special prosecutor to look into the handling the case by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Judge Michael Toomin ruled that Foxx, who recused herself from the investigation, had no authority to appoint First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats in her place.
The Chicago Police had initially investigated the Jan. 29 attack against Smollett as a hate crime. But after interviewing the two main persons of interest, Olabinjo (Ola) and Abimbola (Abel) Osundairo, police then turned their attention to Smollett himself. The Osundairo brothers told investigators that it was Smollett who orchestrated his own attack. During a press conference in February, hours after Smollett’s surrender, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the actor staged an attack on himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
Smollett was later fired from “Empire,” which is in the middle of its sixth and final season. He last appeared on the Fox drama in April and was written out of the last few episodes of its fifth season. Both Fox and “Empire” producers had previously told TheWrap that Smollett would not return for the show’s final episodes this spring.
Pamela Chelin contributed to the report.
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