City sues 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett over costs of police work despite dismissal of charges
12 April, 2019, 16:14
The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit Thursday against "Empire" star Jussie Smollett and made good on their threat to use legal means to secure the costs of the investigation into his racial attack claims.
The city's resolve to take Smollett to civil court follows a surprising decision by prosecutors in March to drop all criminal charges accusing him of staging the incident, saying they believed they could prove the charges but that it wasn't worth the time and expense.
Two days later, the Department of Law sent Smollett a letter that threatened legal action if he didn't pay for the overtime costs within a week.
Attorney Mark Geragos responded: "Mr. Smollett's preference remains, however, that this matter be closed and that he be allowed to move on with his life".
Smollett, 36, who is black and gay, ignited a firestorm on social media by telling police on January 29 that two apparent supporters of President Donald Trump struck him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs on a Chicago street. "Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement with planning the attack".
In the letter, Geragos wrote that Smollett "vehemently denies making any false statements", echoing the actor's public assertions of innocence after the charges were dropped. The timeline includes a 41-point blow-by-blow, from when Smollett first met the Osundario brothers - the purported attackers - in the fall of 2017 until the final allegation that Smollett continued to be in contact with the brothers in the days after the alleged attack. The State's Attorney's office, which has faced a wave of criticism over the Smollett case, maintains that the deal does not, in fact, absolve Smollett.
She said the State's Attorney's Office had to better explain why it dropped charges and there should not be the perception there was one set of justice for the "rich or famous" and another for everyone else. While the prosecutor's office dropped all the charges against Smollett, the City of Chicago hasn't been almost as forgiving.
The city said it would not comment on the lawsuit.
"We can not create the perception that if you're rich or famous or both that you get one set of justice, and for everybody else it's something much harsher", she said.
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