Documents suggest prosecutors quickly changed mind on Jussie Smollett case


Documents released on Thursday suggested that just days after Jussie Smollett & # 39; s 16-count indictment were prosecutors in Chicago think of settling his indictment from organizing a hate crime, to deepening the mystery of why they changed their mind so quickly about the matter.

Mr. Smollett, 36, was accused of having paid two acquaintances to carry out an attack against themselves in which they called racist and homophobic slogans and put a noose around his neck. In the days following his indictment on February 28, police detectives in Chicago had a prosecutor from the public prosecutor's office to transfer material related to the investigation, according to a report from a detective.

At that time, the detective wrote, the public prosecutor told them that "she thought the case would be resolved with Smollett who paid the city of Chicago $ 10,000 for restitution and community service." The report, that below about 500 pages released on Thursday, did not say exactly when the meeting took place, but indicated that it happened before 11 March.

On March 26, the Attorney & # 39; s Office of the Cook County State formally rejected all 16 offenses against him, saying that Mr. Smollett had agreed to forfeit the $ 10,000 deposit paid for his release and that he was not a threat for public safety.

Chicago officials, including the then mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and police inspector, Eddie Johnson, denounced the move. Johnson said he was unaware of the decision to bring the charge until the day prosecutors did, although the documents released on Thursday indicate that his investigators known for at least two weeks that the case can be resolved quickly.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, Tandra Simonton, said she could not comment on the grand jury's proceedings, and that she did not respond to a question about the timing of the decision to settle the case.

Many details about the Smollett case remained until last week, then a judge in Chicago ordered his case not to be closed, leaving open the possibility of revealing why prosecutors decided to drop the case. The documents released by the police on Thursday did not answer that question; The prosecutor's office is expected to release some of its own files in the coming days.

Much attention has been paid to the role of State attorney Kimberly Foxx, the top official of the office. She said she had withdrawn from the case due to earlier contact she had with Mr. Smollett representatives, but previously released files showed that the day after the complaint an SMS was sent to a colleague who said she thought her office Mr. Smollett too hard. There is no evidence that she interceded to have her prosecutors end the case.

But her agency's decision to drop the charge led to tensions with the police, who felt that the $ 10,000 forfeiture was too low a price to pay for the many hours that detectives spent on the case. Because the files released on Thursday come from the police, they do not give the perspective of the public prosecutor at events. A police department spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said on Thursday that the detective's position was in the report and declined to comment further.

The city has since been Mr. Smollett challenged, looking for more than $ 130,000 to cover his research costs, in fact attempts to try the actor through civil courts. Mr. Smollett has maintained his innocence.

In the meantime, the episode has left its entertainment career in the dark. He was a star in the Fox show & # 39; Empire & # 39; but it is unclear whether he will return for the final season of the show.

The documents also offered police accounts of what they described as Mr. Smollett's shifting story of what happened on January 29, the date he reported the attack. According to notes from a February 14 police interview with Mr. Smollett, he described an attacker as "pale" from what he could see through the face mask, pointing to the area above the bridge of his nose when he spoke to the authorities. The police then reminded Mr. Smollett, according to the notes, that he had previously described the attacker as white.

Smollett then said he had "assumed that they were white because of the comments that were made," the notes said. Smollett, who is black and gay, had reported to the police that the attackers had called racist and homophobic slogans and shouted, "This is MAGA country!", A reference to President Trump's campaign slogan.

In the end, the police included Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, brothers who came as extra & # 39; s to & # 39; Empire & # 39; worked. According to the notes from the police interview, Mr. Smollett seen photos of the brothers and replied that they could not be the attackers because they were "Black as a sin."

A lawyer for Mr. Smollett, Mark Geragos, refused Thursday to discuss the police bills of his descriptions of his attackers. The lawyer pointed to witness statements in the police file he said, confirming Mr. Smollett's story, including an interview with a woman who saw a white man with what appeared to be a rope under his coat in the area of ​​the reported attack.

Police said the brothers told them that Mr. Smollett hired them to carry out the attack for a payment of $ 3,500, with the promise of $ 500 later. The files also reflected correspondence dating back to the months when Smollett discussed drug buying through the brothers.

The police also accused Smollett of sending a threatening letter to himself at the Chicago factory where "Empire" makes films.

According to the documents, the two brothers told the police that Mr. Smollett was not satisfied with the way the & # 39; Empire & # 39; studio had responded to the threatening letter, claiming they were not playing a role. The police had previously said that Mr. Smollett had planned the attack because he was not satisfied with his salary on & # 39; rich & # 39 ;.