Jussie Smollett police reports released after prosecutor who dropped charges doubts his innocence
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on March 28, 2019
One day after all criminal charges were dropped against Jussie Smollett, many people are left with questions about the puzzling case — but will those be answered anytime soon?
CBS Chicago received the redacted Chicago Police Department reports through a Freedom of Information Act Request, which offer some new insights into the criminal investigation. Detectives dug into the $3,500 check Smollett wrote the Osundairo brothers for fitness training, which authorities believe was also payment to carry out the alleged attack. Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo told police their average hourly rate for training ranged between $20 and $50. At their maximum rate, Smollett would have paid for 70 one-hour training sessions with that check dated Jan. 23. (The alleged hate crime occurred on Jan. 29.)
Also revealed in the reports is that police obtained a warrant for Smollett’s iCloud account and shared access to the data with the FBI. Smollett is still under federal investigation for mail fraud as the FBI looks into whether the Empire star sent himself hate mail threatening his life, which was laced with white powder, days before the alleged attack. According to ABC Chicago, the FBI is also “reviewing circumstances surrounding the dismissal of criminal charges against Jussie Smollett.”
However, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx later stated in an interview with ABC Chicago that the files will be released. Foxx, who recused herself after it had been revealed that she had been in touch with Smollett’s family, defended her office’s decision to drop all charges in a series of interviews on Wednesday.
“I believe this was a just outcome based on the circumstances,” she said, while adding, “We stand behind the work the men and women of the [Chicago Police Department] did in putting this case together.”
She also said this wasn’t a case of a celebrity getting special treatment. “I don’t want people to believe that there aretwo measures for justice for [those with] privilege and those without,” she explained, saying she stands behind her office’s record of how its handled other Class 4 felonies. Foxx doubled down on the assertion in an interview with WBEZ.
“You know, I think that there is a lot of confusion. For people who do this work every day, who recognize what the charges are — this is a Class 4 felony — we recognize that the likelihood that someone would get a prison sentence for a Class 4 felony is slim,” she said, adding, “I’ll start with the caveat that the final disposition was made by someone other than myself. But I understand it. I think we again have to look at these cases on the facts and the merits. … Not every case that goes to trial has a finding of guilt.”
Foxx concluded by saying she doesn’t view the dismissed charges to mean Smollett is necessarily innocent.
“In this instance, Mr. Smollett forfeited his $10,000 bond. Mr. Smollett completed community service, and how he chooses to spin why he did those things — what I can tell you is that most people who come through the criminal justice system don’t give up $10,000 of their hard earned money, or engage in volunteer services connected with an alleged offense, without viewing that as a way of being held accountable,” she said.
The prosecutor who dropped the 16 disorderly conduct charges, Joe Magats, flat out said he believes the actor lied to the police. “I do not believe [Jussie] is innocent,” he told CBS Chicago.
He added to ABC Chicago, “This was not an exoneration. To say that he was exonerated by us or anyone is not true. We believe he did what he was charged with doing.”
Similar to Foxx’s rationale, Magats explained that his office’s resources are simply best used to combat violent crime. “I don’t think that Mr. Smollett is a driver of violence or a violent individual,” he said.
Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and completed 16 hours of community service, both of which factored into the prosecutor’s decision to drop charges.
“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,” the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told Yahoo Entertainment in a statement.
In another interesting twist, the Osundairo brothers’ lawyer released a statement saying she no longer represents them after Tuesday’s stunning reversal. According to TMZ, she quit after the brothers would not make a public statement standing by their claim that Smollett paid them to orchestrate the attack. The timing was interesting as Smollett’s team has gone on the offensive, saying police should refocus their investigation on the brothers.
“The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him,” Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes told reporters Tuesday. Another lawyer representing the actor went on Good Morning America on Wednesday and also shifted the narrative back to the brothers, saying they were lying and that Smollett, a victim of a crime, “just wants his life back.”
Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that two masked men carried out a racial and homophobic attack against him. He also said they yelled, “This is MAGA country,” referring to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
As for Smollett, he continues to maintain his innocence.