It was on January 29 that Empire actor Jussie Smollett was reported to have faced a racist attack in Chicago, while he was on his way to his residence from a sandwich shop. But what sent further shock waves across the world was the report of him ‘staging’ the attack for publicity. Authorities alleged that the actor, who plays Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, arranged for the men to ‘pretend’ to attack him. However, in a surprise hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors in the US dropped all charges against him.
Despite which, Joe Magats, the prosecutor who dropped the charges, stated that he still believes Smollett lied to the police. “The decision to drop the charges does not mean the actor was innocent or any new evidence was presented,” Magats told CNN. "We believe he did what he was charged with doing. This was not an exoneration. To say he was exonerated by us or anyone else is not true," he added.
"We stand by the [Chicago Police Department] investigation," Magats continued. "They did an outstanding job, and we stand by the decision to charge Mr Smollett."
The move, on the other hand, irked Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, D, who issued a condemnation of the prosecutor's decision. "This is, without a doubt, a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you're in a position of influence and power, you'll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way," Emanuel said. "There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop."
Suspicion of Smollett’s claims started when reports suggested that he had not fully cooperated with the authorities after informing them about the attack. Furthermore, a video of the attack, which was assumed to be recorded in the CCTV, also couldn’t be found by the detectives.