Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s lawsuit alleging that the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department engaged in “malicious prosecution” when it investigated whether Smollett staged a “hate crime” attack against himself in January of 2019 was tossed out of Federal court late Wednesday.
The city sued Smollett in April of last year, alleging that the out-of-work actor owed the police department and other Chicago workers $130,000 in restitution for “wasted” overtime hours spent investigating whether Smollett was the victim of a hate crime.
The investigation, the city said, resulted in evidence that Smollett orchestrated his own “hate crime,” and had paid two brothers, whom he met on the set of “Empire,” to attack him outside of his downtown Chicago apartment, throw a “noose” around his neck, splash him with an unknown substance, and then claim to be supporters of President Donald Trump.
Smollett countersued, alleging that the city could not force him to pay an additional fine because he forfeited a $10,000 bond as part of an unofficial “plea agreement” with Chicago’s city prosecutor, and that he’d “been the victim of a malicious prosecution that caused him humiliation and extreme distress,” according to The Associated Press.
Federal judge Virginia Kendall did not agree with Smollett’s assessment of the incident, dismissing his lawsuit and noting that the Chicago Police Department did all it could to bring Smollett’s assailants to justice — it wasn’t their fault evidence and witness testimony pointed to Smollett being part of his own assault team, leading Chicago Police to consider whether Smollett had lied to police in two interviews he did as part of CPD’s investigation.
The CPD investigated Smollett, Kendall said, “for a crime it had probable cause to think he committed.”
Kendall did leave open the possibility that Smollett could refile his claim, noting that proceedings against Smollett haven’t yet concluded.
The Cook County State’s Attorney initially charged Smollett with sixteen counts of lying to police but dropped the charges after Smollett agreed to an off-the-books “plea deal,” that saw Smollett avoid prosecution in return for forfeiting his $10,000 bond and doing around 16 hours of community service. The “plea deal” was unofficial, and did not absolve Smollett of guilt.
Concerned that Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx had given Smollett preferential treatment, the city appointed a special prosecutor who, after reviewing the case, reinstituted six counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett, all for lying to police in the wake of his “hate crime” attack.
Smollett’s attorneys appealed the special prosecutors decision all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, but all judges agreed Smollett should stand trial on the six charges. That hearing was scheduled for sometime in May but is likely to be postponed, since Chicago courts are in coronavirus-related lockdown and out of commission for all but essential services.
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