SALT LAKE CITY — All charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped on Tuesday afternoon, adding another twist to the “Empire” actor’s controversial year, the Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors still maintain that Smollett "faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in the hopes that the attention would advance his acting career," the AP reports.
Smollett says he was assaulted by two men in downtown Chicago. He has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in a March 14 arraignment on a 16-count indictment, according to Deadline.
Police said that investigators had more than enough evidence to convict Smollett, but they decided to drop the charges against him, according to Deadline.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lashed out at Smollett after the charges were dropped. Emanuel said Smollett exploited hate-crime laws.
- “Where is the accountability in the system?” Emanuel asked, according to the AP report. “You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everybody else.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he was blindsided by the decision and he only found out when the public did, Fox News reports. Johnson said the prosecution’s decision could cause a strain between the department and prosecutors.
- "I don't know what's unusual for the state's attorney but we found out about when you all did," Johnson said. "Prosecutors have their discretion of course, we still have to work with the state's attorneys office — we'll have conversations after this."
- It’s possible authorities didn’t have enough evidence. There were no surveillance cameras at the area of the incident, for example. And there were plenty of holes in the case so it might have been hard to prove, according to CNN.
- Authorities might not have wanted to bring the case into the public arena. The entire Smollett case has increased attention because of the actor’s popularity. Prosecutors may not have wanted to let this case be decided in the court of public opinion more than it already had been, CNN reports.
- The case took a turn when police alleged that Smollett hired a pair of brothers to stage the attack. The brothers were arrested and reportedly confessed to the alleged plot. But if they weren’t reliable, it might have thrown a wrench in the case, according to CNN.
- Smollett might not be exonerated completely. The charges might have been dropped because of his volunteer service and not having a history of being dangerous to the community, CNN reports.
- There’s a consideration that the prosecutor made a deal with Smollett to drop the charges.
Will we ever know?: The records have now been sealed, according to CNBC, which means the details may never leak.