Charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett were dropped, but prosecutors say they "stand by" the accusations against him

By Greg Hanlon
March 26, 2019 01:27 PM

Illinois prosecutors “stand by” accusations that Empire actor Jussie Smollett staged a hate attack against himself even after dropping charges against him, according to a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges,” reads the statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

At a Tuesday press conference, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sharply criticized the state’s attorney’s decision to drop charges, saying, “This is an unbelievable whitewash of justice. It’s immoral, unethical, wrong.”

Emanuel, citing a grand jury’s indictment of Smollett, said he believes the actor perpetrated a hoax. “How dare him,” he said, later adding, “Is there no decency in this man?”

Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said at the press conference, “Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”

Johnson added, “I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth and know they tried to hide behind secrecy to broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.”

On Jan. 29 the black and openly gay actor said he was assaulted by two mask-clad men as he stepped out for a bite to eat around 2 a.m. in his Chicago neighborhood.

Smollett told police that as he was assaulted, the two men hurled racist and homophobic insults at him, and slipped a rope around his neck, which Smollett still was wearing when later interviewed by police.

After a police investigation, Smollett was accused of staging the attack and was charged in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

Jussie Smollett
Paul Beaty/AP/Shutterstock

But on Tuesday, the state’s attorney’s office issued a statement obtained by PEOPLE reading: “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’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said at a press conference that Smollett agreed to voluntarily forfeit his bond and cited his record for community service. “There is no ‘deal,’” she said. “The state dismissed the charges.”

It was not immediately clear whether Smollett forfeited the $10,000 he put up to post bail or his full $100,000 bond.

After the press conference, Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to PEOPLE saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”

The statement added, “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. 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 judgment.”

A statement obtained by PEOPLE from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said, “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”

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