State prosecutors in Chicago dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett on Tuesday, but make it clear the actor has not been exonerated.
NEW from Chicago: Joe Magats, the first assistant state's attorney who made the final decision to drop the charges against Jussie Smollett, says in an interview: "We didn't exonerate him."
— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) March 26, 2019
via Chicago Sun-Times:
First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats said the decision to drop the charges should not be interpreted that Smollett did not do what police and prosecutors have alleged — pay his assailants to fake the attack and then falsely report the incident to police.
Nor did dropping the charges mean that Smollett was a victim of a crime, Magats said emphatically.
“Absolutely not. We stand behind the CPD investigation done in this case, we stand behind the approval of charges in this case,” Magats told the Sun-Times. “They did a fantastic job. The fact there was an alternative disposition in this case is not and should not be viewed as some kind of admission there was something wrong with the case, or something wrong with the investigation that the Chicago Police did.”
Magats, who became the final decision maker on the case after Foxx recused herself in mid-February, said prosecutors made the decision to drop the charges against Smollett under the same criteria they would any other defendant.
“It’s a nonviolent crime. He has no felony criminal background. If you start looking at the disposition in the case, in every case you need to look at the facts and circumstances of the case, and the defendant’s background.”
Magats noted that while there was no court-ordered community service, Smollett had been active in the community even after he was charged. Sealing records as part of deferred prosecution is common, Magats said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson held a fiery press conference with the full believe that “Mr. Smollett committed this hoax,” and accused Jussie of receiving preferential treatment by the Illinois State Attorney’s Office.
“This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice,” Mayor Emanuel said Tuesday afternoon. “There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop.”
“I’m sure we all know what happened this morning,” Superintendent Johnson said. “Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is owed an apology.”
“At the end of the day, it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period,” Johnson said. “I heard that they wanted their day in court … so America could know the truth, and they chose to hide behind a secrecy of a brokered deal to circumvent the judicial system.”
Eddie Johnson said that he and Mayor Emanuel only learned about the charges being dropped when it was announced publicly.
“We found about it when you all did,” he said of the lack of notice from the State’s Attorney Office regarding the dropped charges. “I’m sure we’ll have some conversation after this. But again at the end of the day Mr. Smollett committed this hoax.”
While it was not immediately clear what prompted prosecutors to drop the charges against Jussie, a spokesperson for the Cook County State Attorney’s Office noted that the actor will forfeit a $100,000 bond.
Jussie Smollett did community service at Rainbow PUSH Saturday/Monday for about 16 hours total.
Charges dropped Tuesday.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) March 26, 2019
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Gugliemi issued a tweet on his verified account shortly after the mayor and police superintendent spoke, heralding the work of investigators and suggesting that “In our experience, innocent individuals don’t forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges.”
Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don't forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges. https://t.co/P9rsvUMwwZ
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) March 26, 2019
Emanuel had earlier said that “the financial cost of $10,000 doesn’t even come close to what the city spent in terms of resources.”
Watch the press conference below.