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By Andrew Blankstein and Minyvonne Burke
In a stunning reversal, Chicago prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett just weeks after the charge of 16 counts for allegedly filing a lawsuit. false police report.
Smollett, 36, was seen arriving in a courtroom in Chicago around 10:30 am on Tuesday for an emergency hearing. After his appearance in court, his lawyers issued a statement that "the act of the actor was erased from the filing of this tragic complaint against him".
"Jussie was assaulted by two people whom he was not able to identify on January 29. It was a victim vilified and accused of appearing as the perpetrator." the result of false and inappropriate remarks addressed to the public, which provoked a hasty run to the judgment "the statement read.
"Jussie and many others have been hurt by these unjust and unjustified actions.This whole situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. This is false, it is a reminder that a victim, in this case, Jussie deserves dignity and respect.The dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only result just. "
Smollett was indicted earlier this month by a grand jury of 16 counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, according to a criminal complaint.
In February, he was charged with disorderly conduct after Chicago officers claimed to have orchestrated the alleged hate crime committed in January against himself because he was unhappy with his salary for the show. " Empire".
His role in the Fox series, where he plays Jamal Lyon, was cut from the last episodes of the fifth season "to avoid further disturbances on the set," said the series' executive producers in a joint statement February 22nd.
On January 29, Smollett had told the police that he had been beaten by two masked men while he was out picking up food in the Streeterville neighborhood in Chicago. The actor, who is black and homosexual, said his assailants uttered racist and homophobic insults before hitting him, passing a noose around his neck and bleaching him.
The brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo were arrested in February while police were investigating the alleged assault. They were later released by the police. They are not considered suspects. In a statement that followed the announcement of the abandonment of Smollett's charges, the two brothers' legal team said that they "continued to review all legal matters".
Smollett was later labeled as a suspect in his own alleged assault and arrested in February. Prosecutors and police reported that Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers $ 3,500 by way of a check to attack him, and also gave them money to buy the supplies they needed to commit the crime. hoax.
He was released from prison after posting $ 10,000 of his $ 100,000 bond.
The Cook County Attorney's Office said Tuesday that after reviewing the case, the Smollett Volunteer Service and its willingness to hand over its bond to the city, "we think this result is a fair solution and an appropriate solution to this case ".
His family celebrated the decision, saying in a statement that "the truth has prevailed and that it has been justified".
"Our son and our brother are an innocent man whose name and character have been unfairly defamed," said the family. "Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a defender of human rights and a true soul who would never be able to do what he was falsely accused of."
The actor and his lawyers have repeatedly denied the charges against him. Mark Geragos, who represents Smollett, said in a statement to NBC News earlier this month that the indictment was "overexploitation of the prosecution".
"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to deflect the attention of the internal investigation into the leak." Scandalous false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's private health records, "said Geragos.