CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago wants its money from actor Jussie Smollett, but the embattled actor says he doesn’t owe the city a penny.
And as CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Wednesday night, Smollett’s team now claims there is evidence to support their client’s innocence.
But it is unclear what that evidence actually is.
Smollett’s team made the statement after the City of Chicago made clear that it is not backing down from the civil lawsuit asking Smollett for $130,000 to cover the costs investigating what they call a staged racist and homophobic attack.
Smollett’s attorney asked the court to throw the civil lawsuit away. But the city responded this week that they have every right to collect the cash, adding that there is GPS, text message, bank records, and video evidence to prove that Smollett allegedly lied about the attack.
But Smollett’s team said in a statement released to the Associated Press on Wednesday that “every iota” of his account of being the victim of an attack is supported by police evidence.
But the statement doesn’t say what that evidence is.
In recent months, Chicago Police have released hours upon hours of surveillance video and documents in the Smollett investigation.
It included everything from body camera video showing a rope wrapped around Smollett’s neck the night of the reported attack, to the brothers who say they were paid to carry out the attack caught on security camera buying supplies for alleged hoax.
Smollett said he was attacked by two men, who doused him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck at 2 a.m. Jan. 29. He claimed the men shouted racial and homophobic slurs in the attack on Lower North Water Street, and also said, “This is MAGA country” in an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Police said, in reality, Smollett had paid two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 by check to stage the attack. CBS 2’s De Mar has reported Smollett also allegedly directed the brothers to buy the noose at a hardware store and the hat and masks at a store in Uptown. Johnson said police have the check.
The brothers’ attorneys have acknowledged they took part in a hoax, but said they have apologized for it, and only did so because Smollett paid them.
Police have said Smollett — who is black and openly gay — orchestrated the fake hate crime because he was upset with his salary on “Empire.”
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Disorderly conduct charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office. But now, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb has been appointed as a special prosecutor to take a closer look at the case.
Cook County Criminal Court Judge Michael Toomin ruled two months ago that a special prosecutor was needed in the case, due to “unprecedented irregularities” in how Foxx handled the case, specifically by handing it over to her second-in-command after announcing she had recused herself.
Foxx’s handling of the case will be investigated, and Smollett could now face new criminal charges. Since he was never convicted or acquitted, but rather just had charges against him dropped, new charges against Smollett would not constitute double jeopardy.
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Webb said last week that he is essentially starting the investigation of the whole case over from scratch.
“I’m starting this thing fresh today. I am not going to accept any view of this case whatsoever from anybody. I have to examine the evidence. I’ve got to make decisions out of fairness, based on what the evidence says. I’m going to start fresh and see where it goes.”
As for Foxx, she said of Webb’s appointment “I look forward to have whatever lessons we can learn for how this case was handled and implement that. What I want is for the people of Cook County to have faith and trust in our criminal justice system, and more importantly in our State’s Attorney’s office.”
Smollett has repeatedly denied all the allegations, and his attorneys have claimed he was exonerated when Foxx’s office dropped the charges.
The Chicago Police Department has also repeatedly defended its investigation against Smollett.