Thursday 22 August 2019

Police were told deal was in works with Jussie Smollett, documents show

Some 460 pages of case documents were released on Thursday.

Jussie Smollett after his charges were dropped in March (Paul Beaty/AP)
Jussie Smollett after his charges were dropped in March (Paul Beaty/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

New documents on the Jussie Smollett case show that prosecutors told Chicago police detectives that a possible deal with the Empire actor was in the works a month before charges against him were dropped.

The approximately 460 pages of new documents show detectives investigating Smollett’s claim he was the victim of a hate crime were told by Cook County prosecutors a deal with Smollett could include a 10,000 US dollar fine and community service.

The detectives did not pass the information to superiors.

“They didn’t pass it on because they didn’t know it (the case) was going to be handled the way it was,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Smollett was charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January.

Police contend the actor staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity. Prosecutors dropped charges on March 26 without Smollett admitting guilt.

Then Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson expressed outrage over the prosecutors’ decision.

They didn't pass it on because they didn't know it was going to be handled the way it was Anthony Guglielmi, Chicago police spokesman

In the documents released on Thursday, detectives note the Chicago Police Department was informed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office on February 28 that they could no longer investigate the crime.

Smollett was indicted on March 7.

The lead investigators in the case met with Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier, who informed detectives “that she felt the case would be settled with Smollett paying the city of Chicago 10,000 dollars in restitution and doing community service”.

The detectives closed the case at that point because an arrest was made and the alleged offender was being prosecuted, according to Mr Guglielmi.

Telephone calls to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office were not immediately returned on Thursday.

It was the lawyers for Smollett who announced charges alleging he lied to police about the attack had been dropped.

At the time, Mr Johnson said he learned of the deal prosecutors made with Smollett when the deal was announced by lawyers, adding he did not think justice was being served.

However, he did not directly criticise prosecutors.

“My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the state’s attorney,” Mr Johnson said.

“That’s what we did. I stand behind the detectives’ investigation.”

The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association said the dismissal of the charges was “an affront to prosecutors across the state” as well as police, victims of hate crimes and the county as a whole.

The city of Chicago is seeking 130,000 dollars from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his reported beating.

The city claims about two dozen detectives and officers investigated the entertainer’s report that he was attacked, resulting in a “substantial number of overtime hours”.

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