Special prosecutor Dan Webb has indicted actor Jussie Smollett in connection with a hate crime hoax that he was accused of staging last January.
“The Cook County Clerk’s Office confirmed Tuesday that special prosecutor Dan Webb has indicted former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett in connection with the alleged attack,” ABC 7 reported. “Smollett had been charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the alleged attack, which police say Smollett staged on himself because he was unhappy with his ‘Empire’ salary.”
ABC 7 reporter Rob Elgas later added that Webb’s office said in a statement: “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…”
MORE: From special prosecutor Dan Webb's office: "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…"
— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 11, 2020
Fox 4 noted that prosecutors had insisted last year that “Smollett faked the racist, anti-gay attack on himself in the hopes that the attention would advance his acting career.”
“But with little explanation, authorities in March of 2019 abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett, abandoning the criminal case only five weeks after the allegations were filed. In return, prosecutors said, the actor agreed to let the city keep his $10,000 in bail,” Fox 4 added. “The dismissal drew a swift backlash from the mayor and police chief and raised questions about why Smollett was not forced to admit what prosecutors had said they could prove in court – that the entire episode was a publicity stunt.”
The development comes after a Cook County judge recently ordered Google to turn over nearly all of Smollett’s data from the last year.
“The warrants, filed last month in Circuit Court, sought a trove of documentation from Smollett and his manager’s Google accounts — not just emails but also drafted and deleted messages; any files in their Google Drive cloud storage services; any Google Voice texts, calls and contacts; search and web browsing history; and location data,” The Chicago Tribune reported. “Authorities could be looking for any incriminating remarks from Smollett or his manager, especially in the months after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office abruptly dismissed disorderly conduct charges against the then-‘Empire’ actor just weeks after his indictment.”
Numerous top officials weighed blasted Cook County State’s Attorney’s office after it had dropped all charges against Smollett.
“I’m sure we all know what occurred this morning,” then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “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?” Johnson continued. “I think this city is still owed an apology. … 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,” Johnson added. “And now they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.”
Then-Democrat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed even more anger with his comments on Smollett.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said. “A grand jury could not have been clearer.”
“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,” Emanuel continued. “In another way, you’re seeing this play out in the universities, where people pay extra to get their kids a special position in universities. Now you have a person, because of their position and background, who’s getting treated in a way that nobody else would ever that would ever get close to this type of treatment.”
“The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud,” Emanuel added. “This is without of doubt a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you’re in a position of influence and power, you’ll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability in the system. It is wrong, full stop.”
“I wanted to say one other thing,” Emanuel said. “Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent, still running down the Chicago Police Department.”
“How dare he! How dare him! After everybody saw — and I want to remind you — this is not the superintendent’s word against his,” Emanuel continued. “The grand jury, a sliver of the evidence and they came to a conclusion, as did the state’s attorney’s office. This is not the superintendent and the detectives, department, word against his!”
“And even after this whitewash, still, no sense of ownership of what he’s done. He says that in fact he is the wronged in this case,” Emanuel added. “This is an unbelievable, not just whitewash of justice, this a person now that’s been let off scot-free, with no sense of accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions, from top to bottom, not only to tarnish the name of the city.”
“But then I cannot stress that in a time when you have people bringing a moral equivalency in Virginia between bigots and those fighting bigotry, and you have a person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people, who are minorities, from violence, to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward,” Emanuel concluded. “Is there no decency in this man?”
This report has been updated to include additional information.