Jussie Smollett Case: Petition Filed Asking Special Prosecutor to Investigate After Charges Dropped
"I want to see that the right thing is done, the right way," Chicago attorney Saani Mohammed tells PEOPLE about his petition
The first formal request has been filed for a special prosecutor after the state’s attorney’s office dropped all 16 charges that accused Jussie Smollett of staging a hate crime on himself, PEOPLE confirms.
Chicago-based attorney Saani Mohammed tells PEOPLE he filed a 10-page petition on Thursday asking for a special prosecutor to take up the case against Empire‘s Smollett.
In addition, Mohammed is asking the special prosecutor to look into whether Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office interfered with the investigation.
“I want to see that the right thing is done, the right way,” Mohammed tells PEOPLE about his decision to file his petition.
“I want to let the public know that the justice system is for everybody. There’s no separate justice system for different classes of people,” adds Mohammed, who was an assistant state’s attorney in Foxx’s office until last month to pursue private practice.
Alleging that Foxx’s handling of the case was “plagued with irregularity,” Mohammed’s petition states that no written agreement was entered in dropping the charges against Smollett and he was not required to admit any wrongdoing, allowing him to “perpetrate the same lie that formed the basis of the crime,” according to the documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
“Indeed, Mr. Smollett now claims that the dismissal of the charges exonerates him and validates that he was not only the victim of a hate crime, but also that he was unjustly vilified and smeared by the Chicago police and the entire Cook County criminal justice system,” the petition said.
On Smollett’s dropped charges, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office previously confirmed to PEOPLE: “After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’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.”
Smollett, 36, had faced 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly fabricating details of an assault that occurred around 2 a.m. local time on January 29 on a street in his Chicago neighborhood.
The black and openly gay actor claimed the two mask-clad men who attacked him hurled racist and homophobic insults, doused him with a chemical, and slipped a rope around his neck, which Smollett still had on when later interviewed by police.
Throughout the case, Smollett maintained his innocence. The actor previously pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked by two men in what authorities later had claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson later told reporters that two men — Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who were acquaintances of Smollett — admitted their roles but said they were acting at Smollett’s direction, and police recovered a $3,500 check they portrayed as Smollett’s payment to the two men for the alleged hoax attack. Police said phone records revealed Smollett had spoken with the men an hour before the attack, an hour after the attack, and while they were out of the country as the investigation unfolded.
Johnson alleged that Smollett’s motive was to attract attention and sympathy with the goal to boost his salary on Empire, a hit FOX TV show.
The brothers subsequently issued an apology through their lawyer for their involvement in the incident, though they did not specify what they did. Neither has been charged.
Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, previously told reporters that Smollett’s $3,500 check to the brothers was to cover Smollett’s nutrition and training regimen. “They were his trainers,” she said.
Following the dropped charges, Smollett’s attorneys, Holmes and Tina Glandian, released a statement to PEOPLE saying, “All criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”
Smollett’s attorneys and reps did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment regarding Mohammed’s petition.
RELATED VIDEO: Jussie Smollett Likely Wouldn’t Have Gone to Prison Even if Found Guilty at Trial
Meanwhile, state attorney Foxx has been receiving backlash after she recused herself from the case before Smollett was charged and assigned the case to her deputy.
Then, the Chicago Sun-Times later reported that Tina Tchen, a Chicago lawyer and former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, put Foxx in touch with members of Smollet’s family days after he told police he was the victim of a hate attack.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Tchen said: “I know members of the Smollett family based on prior work together. Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together. My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”
In his petition, Mohammed refers to Tchen as a “politically connected ally” and alleges Foxx improperly “used her position to intervene in the investigation” on Smollett’s behalf, according to the Tribune.
Foxx’s office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment regarding Mohammed’s petition.
While charges that he staged his own hate crime were dropped, Smollett has not been exonerated of the alleged conduct, nor does this mean there will be no further criminal charges brought against him.
Thursday was also the deadline for Smollett to pay Chicago $130,000 for investigation costs. However, the star failed to pay the amount, according to CBS Chicago.
The City of Chicago sent Smollett a letter on March 28, two days after the charges were dropped, demanding he pay more than $130,000 to cover “overtime hours in the investigation of this matter” after the police investigation “revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your own attack.”
PEOPLE has not verified whether Smollett has responded to the letter.