Charges dropped against Jussie Smollett - What's Your Point?

This week’s panel:  Wayne Dolcefino – media consultant, Laura Moser – former Democratic congressional candidate, Bob Price – Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas, Tomaro Bell – Super Neighborhood leader, Keir Murray – Democratic strategist, Ben Streusand – conservative commentator, “Three Amigos”, KSEV Radio,  talk about the twists and turns in the Jussie Smollett case.


CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office insist their relationship is strong, even if they didn't agree on the outcome in Jussie Smollett's case.

When prosecutors dropped the charges that accused Smollett of orchestrating a fake attack, the decision drew a swift backlash from critics, including the mayor and police superintendent. They were outraged that Smollett saw his record wiped clean without offering so much as an apology.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the relationship is like a marriage and sometimes needs work, but both organizations are crime fighters. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx tells WGN that she spoke to the police superintendent about the decision to drop the case. She says their relationship is one of mutual respect.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is defending Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who has been criticized after her office dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

The civil rights leader was in Chicago on Saturday at the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. The Chicago Tribune reports Sharpton portrayed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a hypocrite. Emanuel has criticized prosecutors' actions in the "Empire" actor's case. Smollett was charged with falsely reporting to police that he was the victim of an attack.

Sharpton said "there is a marked difference between how they reacted to this and how they reacted to the Laquan McDonald case." Sharpton said there was no outrage when video showing a white officer fatally shooting the black teen was withheld.

Emanuel spokesman Matt McGrath said "this isn't worthy of a response."

CHICAGO (AP) - Jussie Smollett, a successful but not A-list actor, burst into the world's consciousness in January after he reported being the victim of a racist and anti-gay attack. In the two months since, a number of figures in Chicago and beyond have gained international attention and emerged as supporting characters in the saga. A look at those involved:


Actor and musician Jussie Smollett went from child star to one of the few actors to play a black, gay character on prime-time TV on Fox's "Empire." His name-recognition skyrocketed when he made a report to Chicago police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in late January. Weeks later, his celebrity turned to notoriety when he was indicted, accused by police of staging the attack because he was unhappy with his pay on "Empire" and was looking to promote his career. On Tuesday, tables turned again for the actor when prosecutors dropped the charges. Afterward, Smollett stood in front of a media crush , thanking his family and supporters.


President Donald Trump increased attention on the case when, two days after Smollett reported the attack, he told reporters at the White House that he saw a story about Smollett. "It doesn't get worse, as far as I'm concerned," Trump said. Smollett said his attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country," a reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. Two days after prosecutors drop charges against Smollett the president tweeted that the FBI and Department of Justice will "review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case" and called the case "an embarrassment to our Nation!"


Mayor Rahm Emanuel jumped to support his city after Smollett was first charged, saying the accusations against the actor "will never trump Chicago's collective spirit." When charges were dropped, a visibly angry Emanuel appeared at a news conference and called the move by prosecutors "a whitewash of justice." He said Chicago "saw its reputation dragged through the mud." Emanuel's administration on Thursday sent Smollett a letter, ordering him to pay $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.


Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was chosen to lead the department after his predecessor was fired when video was released showing a white police officer fatally shoot unarmed black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Johnson said he was angry and offended that another black man would exploit racial divisions for his own gain. He called Smollett's case a "scar that Chicago didn't earn and certainly didn't deserve" and said the actor should apologize. When charges were dropped, Johnson said Smollett still owes the city an apology - and that he should have been willing to prove his innocence.


Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx removed herself from the Smollett case before he was charged, saying she had discussed the case with a Smollett family member. The case was handed to First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats. Foxx defended the decision by her staff to drop charges, saying the matter was handled properly. She pointed to Smollett forfeiting his $10,000 bond and doing community service.


Smollett turned to celebrity defense attorney Mark Geragos, whose clients have included Michael Jackson and Colin Kaepernick, when he was charged. Geragos called the 16-count indictment that Smollett faced "prosecutorial overkill." When charges were dropped, Smollett walked out of a Cook County courtroom with attorney Patricia Brown Holmes, who told reporters that her client "was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator." Holmes is known locally for being special prosecutor in the trial of three Chicago police officers who were acquitted of lying to protect their colleague who shot McDonald.


Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo told police Smollett hired and paid them $3,500 to help stage an attack on himself that included shouting slurs, dousing the actor with a chemical and draping a noose around his neck. The brothers testified before a grand jury and later said they regretted their involvement . After charges were dropped, the brother's attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said they "were fully prepared to testify in any criminal proceeding" in the Smollett case.

CHICAGO (AP) - Jussie Smollett's attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, issued the following statement Wednesday, which she said was in response to the Chicago Police Department releasing "one-sided evidence" and continuing a "smear campaign" against Smollett after charges that the "Empire" actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack were dropped.

"We are disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped. The facts are clear. The Assistant State's Attorney appeared in court and dismissed the charges. Mr. Smollett forfeited his bond. The case is closed. No public official has the right to violate Mr. Smollett's due process rights.

Mr. Smollett, like every citizen, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Mr. Smollett is entitled to the same Constitutional protections as any citizen charged by the government with a crime- including the right to speak freely about his innocence, the right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the right to hold the State to its burden of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. None of that has occurred in this case.

We respectfully request all government agencies involved live up to the ethical tenants of their office, state and local law, Supreme Court Rules on Trial Publicity as well as the Rules of Professional Responsibility for lawyers and prosecutors. We will not try this case in a court of public opinion. There is no case to try. The case was dismissed. We should all allow Mr. Smollett to move on with his life as a free citizen."