Surprising Turns in the Jussie Smollett Case
The Jussie Smollett Case has taken many surprising turns and I’m sure it has left people wondering “what the heck really happened?” Although, the convoluted affair surrounding one of the stars of the television series “Empire” has ended with charges being dropped, the story is far from over. Actor Jussie Smollett told Chicago police in January that two men attacked him near his apartment building in Streeterville, slipping a noose around his neck and yelling racial and homophobic slurs. But, more than three weeks later, authorities said they believed Smollett was lying and charged him with disorderly conduct, alleging he filed a false police report. Initially, there was an outpouring of support for Smollett but as the story turned, so did public sentiment.
The Envelope that May Have Carried a Warning
The week before has was attacked in Streeterville, Smollett reported receiving an envelope addressed to him at production studios on Chicago’s West Side. The letters “MAGA” were written, in red ink, in the return address section of the envelope. Inside was a threat in cut-out letters: “You will die black (expletive).” There was white powder in the envelope, but it was determined to be crushed pain reliever, according to police.
A Racial and Homophobic Hate Crime
On the night of the attack, the actor, black and openly gay, said he was walking back to his apartment at around 2 a.m. when two men walked up, yelled radical and homophobic slurs, declared “This is MAGA country,” hit him and wrapped a noose around his neck. Chicago police starts to review hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage, but none of the videos show the attack. Despite the support of celebrities and politicians, skepticism continues to grow on social media. Smollett’s family issues a statement calling the attack a racial and homophobic hate crime. The family says he “has told the police everything” and “his story has never changed,” disputing assertions on social media that he has been less than cooperative and has changed his story.
The Twists in the Investigation
According to Chicago police, Smollett turned over some, but not all, of the phone records that the detectives requested as part of their investigation. Chicago police then announces that the detectives are interviewing the two ‘persons of interest” captured on the video around the time and area where Smollett was attacked. It wasn’t until investigators uncovered a blurry video of two men walking near the supposed crime scene that the case took a very unexpected turn, one that would eventually cast suspicion on the actor himself. Local media reports start to circulate about the attack against Smollett being a hoax, but it remains unconfirmed by Chicago police. After hours of interrogation, the two brothers are released and no longer considered suspects. Chicago police start investigating whether Smollett paid the two brothers to stage an attack, following up on information provided by the two while they were in custody.
Smollett’s Motive for Staging According to Authorities
The police say that Smollett was upset over his pay for his role in “Empire,” and was seeking publicity. His salary has not been made public; it has been estimated in media reports at $65,000 to $100,000 an episode.
Why Top Prosecutor Recuses Herself from the Case
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case after exchange text messages with Smollett family friends – said there are a lot of emotions surrounding the case but insisted that her office has “to be driven by facts.” She also went on to say that there were “specific aspects of the evidence and testimony presented” that made securing a conviction uncertain.
On March 8th, a Cook County grand jury indicts Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Smollett pleads not guilty to the 16 counts of disorderly conduct in front of Cook County Judge Steven Watkins. Weeks later, Cook County prosecutors decide to drop all charges against Smollett, calling it an appropriate resolution to this case.
Leaks and Press Appearances by the Chicago Police
The charges being dropped may have resulted from the leaks and press appearances done by the Chicago police. Smollett’s attorneys argued from the beginning that the police overstepped when they held initial press conference and painted Smollett as a criminal. TMZ reported that the Chicago Police are “furious” with the State’s decision to drop all of the charges. Police Superintendent Johnson said in a press conference on March 26, “Do I think justice was served? No.”