US prosecutors dropped all charges on Tuesday against television actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of fabricating a racist and homophobic hate crime, his attorneys said.
“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean,” Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a joint statement.
The actor was accused by the Chicago Police Department of staging a hate crime against himself.
The 36-year-old actor had denied 16 felony counts of allegedly masterminding a false attack on the streets of downtown Chicago to gain publicity and win a bigger paycheck.
“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 judgement,” the attorneys said.
Smollett was accused of sending himself a threatening letter and hiring two acquaintances to stage a street attack, complete with homophobic and racial slurs, while invoking Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
The case invoked widespread sympathy for the actor and outrage over the attack.
During an explosive press conference in late February, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, accused Smollet of resorting to ”both drastic and illegal tactic to gain attention.”
The #Empire star took to his Instagram handle #JussieSmollet to announce the charges being dropped.
”I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of.”
Smollet thanked his family, the city of Chicago and his supporters after all criminal charges were dropped against him.
But Mayor Rahm Emanuel lambasted the surprise reversal by Cook County prosecutors, emphasizing that a grand jury concluded the attack was a hoax and hammering Smollett as indecent for claiming to be a victim.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel told a news conference. “From top to bottom, this is not on the level.”
The mayor’s comments capped a dizzying three hours that began at a brief court hearing on Tuesday, when prosecutors abruptly announced they were abandoning the case.
The backlash from Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson – who said he was unaware of prosecutors’ plans beforehand – made clear the Jan. 29 incident remains clouded by unanswered questions.
“Do I think justice was served? No,” Johnson told reporters. “I think this city is still owed an apology.”
Prosecutors did not respond to requests for a response.