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By Corky Siemaszko
Kimberly Foxx, the first African-American woman to occupy the position of Cook County Counsel in Chicago, has come under fire from critics after her office knocked out the country by suddenly giving up all charges holdings against the actor of "Empire" Jussie Smollett.
The state attorney's office announced its decision to drop the lawsuit just weeks after being indicted for 16 counts of filing a false police report regarding his claim to be a victim of a hate crime in January.
Foxx was challenged last month before the trial of Smollett and handed him over to his deputy. A representative of his office had stated at the time that the challenge "was made to deal with any questions of impartiality based on familiarity with potential witnesses in the case".
The Chicago Sun-Times later learned that Tina Tchen, a lawyer in Chicago and former chief of staff of first lady Michelle Obama, had put Foxx in touch with family members of Jussie Smollet a few days after declaring to the police that he was a victim of a homophobic, racist attack.
A Chicago police union, the Fraternal Police College, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate Foxx's role in the decision not to prosecute Smollett.
"The FOP is outraged by the decision to drop the lawsuit against Smollett, but not surprise," the union said in a statement sent to NBC News via email. "Since Kimberly Foxx took office, she has turned the prosecutor's office into a political branch of the anti-police movement. We renew our call for a federal inquiry into his role in this case and expect the media to conduct a thorough investigation. "
There was no direct response from Foxx. His spokesman, Tandra Simonton, insisted that the Smollett case was not treated differently from the more than 5,700 other "lawsuit cases" handled by the bureau in the past two years.
"This is not a new or unusual practice," said Simonton in a statement.
According to the statement, this does not mean that prosecutors have had problems with the investigation of the Chicago Police Department on Smollett, who told police on January 29 that he had been beaten up by two masked men in the upscale neighborhood of Streeterville while he was looking to eat. The actor, who is black and gay, said his abusers had uttered racist and homophobic insults before hitting him, passing him a knot in the neck and dunking him with what he had called him. # 39; bleach.
"We have not exonerated Mr. Smollett," said Simonton. "The charges were dropped in exchange for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and waive his $ 10,000 bond for the benefit of the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped. This result was achieved according to the same criteria as those applicable to any defendant in similar circumstances. "
Simonton's statement came after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the Smollett decision "money laundering" and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said his department was blinded by the move.
"It's completely false, it's not a laundering justice," WMAQ radio spokesman Joe Magats told reporters.
The agreement obtained by Smollett "is available to all the accused; it is not something out of privilege; it's not something out of influence, "Magats said.
Suspicions that Smollett could possibly benefit from a special deal were raised earlier this month when news agencies in Chicago announced that Foxx had tried to persuade Johnson to send the case back to the FBI.
Foxx phoned Johnson after Tchen put her in touch with members of Smollett's family, who said "worry about the investigation."
NBC News sought Chen's advice but did not get an immediate response.
That was before police began to suspect that Smollett had invented the whole episode.
"They had no doubt about the quality of the investigation, but they thought the FBI would have more accurate information," Foxx told the Chicago Sun-Times, insisting that Johnson seemed receptive to the idea of refer the case to the court. FBI.
Foxx, 46, was born in Chicago and grew up in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects that were demolished today. She is married and has two daughters. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from Southern Illinois University.
Prior to his election as Chicago's supreme prosecutor, Foxx had been deputy prosecutor for 12 years. She then served as chief of staff to Cook County Council Chair Toni Preckwinkle, who is now fighting with her Democratic colleague Lori Lightfoot for the chance to become the first African-American woman mayor of Chicago.
Foxx has indicated on its official website that since taking office in December 2016, it has, among other things, "reorganized the Conviction Unit for Integrity, resulting in the cancellation of convictions in more than 60 business, including the first mass exemption in Cook County 15 men whose convictions stem from misconduct of a Chicago police officer. "