“I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know.”
The Chicago Police Department is “furious” that charges against actor Jussie Smollett were dropped Tuesday, according to reports.
Local media said police are confident in their evidence against the actor, who was last month charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after being accused of staging a fake hate crime against himself on Jan. 29.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett Crushed by President’s Unexpected Response to His Attack
TMZ also reported that police suspect the dropping of charges to “untoward” involvement in the case by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. She had been in contact with Smollett’s family in the days after the attack, and at their request, tried to have the FBI take over the case.
A Chicago police spokesman contacted by Pluralist would neither confirm or deny reports that police were angry, though he said: “That may change later in the day.” He referred questions to Foxx’s office.
As a result of her contact with the Smollett family, as well as a supporter of the actor, Foxx later recused herself from the case. But the Chicago police union said Tuesday that the dropping of charges affirms its recent call for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether Foxx broke the law in her handling of the matter.
The union said Tuesday that it was “upset” Smollett had gotten off without being charged.
In a press conference after the emergency hearing, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters that Smollett still owed the city of Chicago an apology.
“My personal opinion is, you all know where I stand on this,'” Johnson said. “Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”
Speaking next, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed the “whitewash of justice,” saying of Smollett, “How dare he?”
Joseph Magats, the lead prosecutor in Smollett’s case, said that he had not exonerated Smollett, and that charges had only been dropped in exchange for the actor relinquishing his $10,000 bail payment and agreeing to perform community service. He added that “we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”
However, he later told CBS reporter Adriana Diaz that he believes Smollett is guilty.
"Do you believe that he is innocent?" CBS reporter @adrianasdiaz asks First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joseph Magats about dropping charges against Jussie Smollett. "I do not believe he is innocent," Magats responds. pic.twitter.com/NEWZuD2aBe
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) March 26, 2019
Foxx was put in touch with Smolllett’s family by former fist lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen. The Chicago attorney – who is also a close friend of Emanuel’s wife – emailed the county’s top prosecutor to express that the family had “concerns about the probe, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
According to correspondence that the newspaper obtained via public records request, Tchen relayed the family’s worries to Foxx by text on Feb. 1, three days after Smollett reported the attack.
“I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,” Tchen said.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett Outside The Courthouse
Foxx told both Tchen and a relative of Smollett that she had asked Johnson, the superintendent, to hand the investigation over the FBI, the messages show.
“Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson,” Foxx emailed Tchen the same day. “I convinced him to Reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get to me shortly.”
Tchen texted a similar message to Smolett’s family member, who replied: “Omg this would be a huge victory.”
“I make no guarantees, but I’m trying,” Foxx wrote back.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s Speaks To The Press
Police were treating Smollett as a victim at the time.
Foxx told the Sun-Times earlier this month that the relative was not worried about the quality of the police investigation, but rather about leaks to the press. The person thought the FBI would “have a tighter lid on the information,” Foxx said, adding that Johnson initially seemed open to the idea of turning the case over to the feds.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the FBI was involved in the probe from the start, but there was never any talk of the bureau taking over the case.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett in an emergency court hearing Tuesday, thereby sealing the records of the case. Contrary to some reports, there was no plea deal behind the move. Foxx cited what she said was Smollett’s previous community service to explain the decision.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’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,” she said.
It was later reported the Smollett did 18 hours of volunteering in recent days with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s nonprofit Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Smollett addressed the press immediately after the hearing and claimed vindication.
“I’ve been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” he said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of.”
The actor’s lawyers said in a statement that their client’s victimhood had been validated. They seemed to admonish the police for exposing Smollett to public criticism.
“He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment,” they said.
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”
Smollett was represented by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos. On Monday, Geragos was identified as a co-conspirator of lawyer Michael Avenatti in an alleged scheme by Avenatti to extort up to $25 million from athletic shoe giant Nike by threatening to release damaging information about that company.
Geragos has not been criminally charged in that case.
Conservatives, many of whom were skeptical of Smollett’s claims from early on, reacted angrily to news that his prosecution would not continue. Some voiced suspicion that his ties to Hollywood and prominent Democrats had been a factor.
This thread is a reminder of the connections the Smollett family has to the upper echelons of the Democrat party and the entertainment industry. https://t.co/6R4aH0Q2ID
— Andy Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) March 26, 2019
Smollett, 36, black and gay former star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show, reported to Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
Police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.
In February, Smollett was arrested and charged with staging the crime in an apparent effort to garner attention and sympathy. Fox would could ties with the actor shortly after, removing him from the final two episodes of the season.
WATCH: Hilarious Smollett Judge Judy Mashup Banned From Twitter
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