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Jussie Smollett Finds Way To Work George Floyd Protests Into Legal Battle With Chicago
Tom Zbikowski works out at Unanimous Boxing Gym at 1313 W. Randolph St. in Chicago, on Friday February 21, 2020. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

In a new legal filing, former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s attorneys attempted to connect his ongoing legal battle with the City of Chicago to the protests sweeping the nation after the death of George Floyd.

In the filing, first reported by TMZ and since published online, Smollett’s lawyers try to use the protests against police, which have increasingly taken the form of the radical “Defund The Police” movement, to the embattled actor’s advantage. The city is suing Smollett for $130,000 for resources officials say were wasted on investigating Smollett’s claim that he was the victim of a violent attack by two white racists and homophobes, which investigators determined was allegedly a hate crime hoax “coordinated” by Smollett himself.

Smollett is attempting to obtain documents about the firing of Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was superintendent during Smollett’s explosive investigation. Johnson’s subsequent firing, Smollett’s legal team insists, is relevant to his case. The city says Johnson’s termination has nothing to do with whether or not Smollett lied to police about the supposed hate crime against him.

In the filing submitted on June 6, Smollett’s attorneys specifically invoke the Floyd protests in making their case that Smollett should be given access to police documents.

“As we see millions across the country rise up to protest and expose police misconduct, the City, by its refusal to produce the requested documents, is choosing to actively resist a citizen’s lawful efforts to reveal dishonesty, directly relating to the charges against him, throughout the department, including the police superintendent who oversaw and publicly commented on the investigation of Mr. Smollett’s report of a vicious hate crime and assault,” the filing’s introduction reads. “Indeed, the city’s opposition to the motion to compel puts the cart before the horse and largely fails to appreciate that this case remains in the discovery phase. Allegations are not proven facts, but the City improperly assumes that it has already proven that Mr. Smollett made false statements to the CPD.”

Johnson was fired by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in December 2019 after allegedly lying to her about an incident involving him being found “asleep behind the wheel of his car” on October 17. “Eddie Johnson intentionally lied to me several times even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “He maintained that he was telling the truth. I now know definitively that he was not.”

Despite Johnson’s firing having nothing to do with the Smollett case, the disgraced star’s legal team argues in the filing that the “[d]ocuments from Johnson’s termination may lead to evidence of Johnson’s lack of truthfulness during the early 2019 investigation of Mr. Smollett’s report of being assaulted and subsequent decision by the City to pursue a civil claim against Mr. Smollett knowing Mr. Smollett’s innocence.”

After Smollett’s initial multi-count indictment was infamously dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx with little explanation, a special prosecutor was appointed, and, in February, a grand jury slapped Smollett with a new 6-count charge for making false reports to police.

Related: Six Days After Floyd’s Death, Chicago Suffers Most Violent Day Since 1961

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