The Latest: Smollett prosecutors: Want to focus on violence

AP
By Associated Press, 27 March 2019

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the case against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett (all times local):

3 p.m.

Prosecutors say one of the reasons they decided to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett was because they want to focus resources on the city's gun violence.

Cook County First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats told WLS-TV on Tuesday that prosecutors want to combat "violent crime, gun crime and the drivers of violence."

His comments came after prosecutors dropped felony charges accusing Smollett of falsely telling police he was attacked.

Magats says Smollett faced accountability by doing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond payment. Magats called it a fair and just outcome.

He says he doesn't regret charging Smollett because "it was the right thing to do then."

Smollett isn't backtracking from his account of being attacked. He insists he's been "truthful and consistent."

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2:25 p.m.

Prosecutors says a stunning decision to drop charges against Jussie Smollett doesn't mean they no longer believe he staged a racial and homophobic attack against him in January.

First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats told reporters Tuesday that he still believes Smollett filed a false police report. He says prosecutors "stand behind the investigation and the facts." He added that "this was not an exoneration."

A minimum requirement for the dropping of charges is typically that a defendant accept some responsibility and offer an apology.

But speaking after prosecutors told a judge they were dropping all charges, Smollett conceded nothing and did not apologize. He insisted he'd been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

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2:05 p.m.

The family of Jussie Smollett says they feel grateful after charges were dropped against the "Empire" actor.

His family said in a statement Tuesday that Smollett's character was "unjustly smeared" and the "truth prevailed" shortly after prosecutors dropped felony charges against him during a Chicago court hearing. The actor had been charged with falsely telling police he was attacked in the downtown area in January.

Smollett's family says the scrutiny he faced over the past several weeks was "heartbreaking" as many were "quick to judgment before hearing the actual truth."

The black and gay actor was accused by police and prosecutor of staging the racial and homophobic attack because he was unhappy with his pay.

The family called Smollett the victim and hope the "real perpetrators" are brought to justice.

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1:55 p.m.

Chicago's police union is outraged but not surprised that prosecutors dropped charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Martin Preib said Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is "not respected with police officers." He says the union previously asked the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago to look into the Smollett case.

Smollett had faced felony charges accusing him of falsely reporting to police that he was attacked in January. Police and prosecutors had said the black and gay actor staged the racial and homophobic attack because he was unhappy with his pay and to promote his career.

The charges were dropped Tuesday. Foxx's office hasn't responded to multiple requests for details. She had recused herself in February from the case.

Preib says Foxx "hasn't worked with the police to prosecute criminals at all so this is not surprising, but it is nevertheless offensive and wrong."

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1:05 p.m.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's police chief have angrily criticized Jussie Smollett and the decision by prosecutors to drop all charges that alleged the "Empire" actor staged a racial and homophobic attack in the city in January.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, a visibly angry Emanuel called the decision a "whitewash of justice" and asked, "Where is the accountability in the system?"

Emanuel criticized Smollett for not taking any responsibility despite what he described as overwhelming evidence. He also says Smollett continues to drag Chicago's reputation through "the mud." His voice seeming to quiver with anger he said about Smollett, "Is there no decency in this man?"

Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said Smollett still owns the city an apology.

Smollett has not backtracked from his original story, insisting he'd been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

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12:50 p.m.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling the dropping of charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett "a whitewash of justice."

The comments Tuesday came after prosecutors dropped charges accusing Smollett of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago.

Prosecutors haven't explained why they made the surprise decision and haven't said if they still maintain Smollett orchestrated the incident.

Smollett told reporters earlier that he'd been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

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12:10 p.m.

Neither Jussie Smollett nor his attorney have backtracked from his original account that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January.

The "Empire" actor spoke to reporters Tuesday after a court hearing in which his attorneys say prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts alleging Smollett staged the attack. Prosecutors haven't explained why they made the surprise decision and haven't said if they still maintain Smollett orchestrated the incident.

A minimum requirement for dropping of charges in cases where prosecutors had said the evidence was strong is typically for defendants to accept some responsibility and perhaps even offer an apology.

But outside court, Smollett appeared to concede nothing Tuesday, insisting he'd been "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

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12:05 p.m.

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett says he wants to get back to work and get on with his life.

Smollett spoke to reporters Tuesday after his attorneys said prosecutors dropped felony charges against him during a Chicago court hearing. The actor had been charged with falsely telling police he was attacked in downtown Chicago in January. He says it has been "an incredibly difficult time" and called it "one of the worst of my life."

Smollett says he wouldn't bring his family "through a fire like this." He thanked family and friends for their support. He says he'll continue to fight for justice and betterment "of marginalized people everywhere."

Police and prosecutors had said the black and gay actor staged the racial and homophobic attack because he was unhappy with his pay and to promote his career.

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11:20 a.m.

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett says he's "been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one."

Smollett made the comment Tuesday after an emergency court hearing where his attorneys say charges alleging he lied to police about attack have been dropped.

Smollett had faced 16 felony counts alleging he lied to police about a racial and homophobic attack against him in January.

Police and prosecutors have said the black and gay actor falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and to promote his career.

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10:55 a.m.

Prosecutors say they believe they've reached an "appropriate resolution" in the case against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

Attorneys for Smollett said Tuesday that all charges alleging he lied to police about attack have been dropped.

Smollett had faced 16 felony counts alleging he lied to police about a racial and homophobic attack against him in January.

In a statement, prosecutor's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton offered no detailed explanation.

The statement said, "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."

Smollett had made a $10,000 bond payment to the city to get out of jail after his arrest on the charges.

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10:20 a.m.

Attorneys for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett say charges alleging he lied to police about attack have been dropped.

Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a Tuesday morning statement that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.

A spokeswoman for Cook County prosecutors didn't immediately respond to messages requesting comment.

Police and prosecutors have said the black and gay actor falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and to promote his career.

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Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

AP
By Associated Press, 27 March 2019

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