He says he is innocent. Totally.
But that didn’t stop the City of Chicago from suing actor Jussie Smollett for $130,000 – their cost, they claim, in overtime pay and expenses to investigate his extraordinary, allegedly false and racially divisive claim to police that he was beaten by two white Trump supporters who he said called him “nigger” and “faggot.”
Evidence Suggests Smollett Made the Whole Thing up
At about 2:30 am, on January 29, 2019, Smollett returned from a trip to Subway to his Streeterville apartment and informed his manager, Frank Gatson, that he was the victim of a physical attack. Gatson called CPD on Smollett’s behalf, and responding officers arrived at his apartment within minutes.
Smollett, wearing a rope around his neck, told responding officers his attackers placed the rope around him, poured liquid [bleach] on him, yelled this is “MAGA Country,” and physically assaulted him.
Smollett told officers his alleged attackers wore ski masks but appeared to be white-skinned.
In the aftermath of this report of a shocking, heinous hate crime against a high-profile victim featuring derogatory slurs and a slogan employed by the President of the United States – it made worldwide news.
Smollett pushed the narrative by appearing on media to describe his role as victim and a determined fighter against racism and homophobia, shedding tears as he bravely vowed to fight to end racist and homophobic attacks against his brothers, sisters and non-gender conforming siblings.
He became a hero to the LBGT, blacks, and particularly the Democratic anti-Trump community who saw this as an opportunity to show how dangerous deplorable Trump supporters can be.
Right from the start, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, a Democrat, wanted to get out of prosecuting the case of white Trump haters and sought to have the FBI take control. Foxx may have been influenced to get the FBI to handle this after she was called by Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, a Democrat, who was advising Foxx on how to handle the matter.
After all – with the attackers being Trump supporters, this was a golden chance to make the incident highly political and rile up supporters.
Other prominent Democrats rushed to support Smollett, including California Senator Kamala Harris, Chicago congressman Rep. Bobby Rush, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
Smollett, who in the past called Trump a racist pig, and compared him to Hitler, said he understood why Trump supporters would attack him. – because he was outspoken. But he was unbowed, and he boldly declared, “My body is strong, but my soul is stronger.”
Meantime, Chicago police were hard at work trying to identify the Trump-supporting, white haters.
Over two dozen CPD officers and detectives participated in the investigation and the CPD claimed it logged 1,836 overtime hours (131 overtime hours each day for two weeks.) which cost the City $130,106 in overtime pay [at $70.86 per hour].
Within two weeks, the CPD concluded that Smollett’s police report and subsequent statements to CPD were lies. The City claimed Smollett made three serious false statements to the CPD that caused the explosion in overtime costs.
First, they allege, on January 29, 2019, when Smollett reported the attack, he told CPD officers “he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack … despite knowing that the purported attack was not for racist or homophobic motives.”
Second, Smollett told CPD officers that his attacker “was white-skinned . . . despite knowing that the Osundairo Brothers [who allegedly perpetrated the fake attack under Smollett’s direction] are not white-skinned.”
Third, on February 14, 2019, Smollett made a false statement to CPD, “claiming that his only relationship with the Osundairo Brothers was as trainers and social acquaintances, claiming that they could not have been his attackers.”
Evidence suggests that Smollett not only was friends with his attackers but orchestrated the attack to advance his career and his role as a freedom-fighting activist.
Large Scale Investigation of Hate Crime
The CPD investigation included many witness interviews as well as the collection and review of surveillance videos, rideshare records, bank records, GPS records, text message, and phone records, and the conclusion was Smollett paid his attackers to assault him, gave them details about how and when to stage the attack, met with them in the days before to discuss the attack, and communicated with them in the hours before the attack to alert them to his exact location.
The Osundairo brothers were arrested on February 13. Ola Osundairo, 27, and Abel Osundairo, 25, confessed that Smollett, whom they knew through his TV show Empire and from working out together, had paid them $3,500 to stage the hoax attack.
Police said they found records in the Chicago home of one of the brothers that showed he purchased rope from a hardware store that was used in the alleged attack. The brothers’ purchase of masks and the rope were also recorded on surveillance video.
There was little doubt that the Osundairo brothers – who are not Trump supporters or white – were responsible for the beating – the only question was – were they paid by Smollett to fake the attack?
Smollett Implies the Osundairo Brothers Are Lying
When evidence showed the Osundairo brothers were involved, Smollett claimed to be shocked. How could he tell it was them, since, after all, they were wearing ski masks?
Smollett was “angered and devastated … that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with” and these animals, the Osundairo brothers, lied when they said that Smollett hired them to fake the attack, his lawyers claimed.
That meant the Osundairo brothers attacked him on their own. But why?
Smollett added he felt “victimized” by reports that he might have been involved in staging his own attack.
“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,” a statement from Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson read.
A grand jury, however, believed the Osundairo brothers, who testified Smollett hired them to stage the attack. A felony indictment was filed against Smollett in the Circuit Court of Cook County alleging 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct, namely filing a false police report.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the media that Smollett staged the attack to look like a hate crime in order to “take advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
The Osundairo brothers, who were not charged with any crime, claim they did not know what Smollett was planning. They trusted and played along – for a fee of $3,500 – to pretend to beat him up.
The attorney for the Osundairo brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said the brothers were tricked by Smollett.
“They find themselves in a situation where they are tremendously regretful,” she said.
Smollett Continues to Deny All
Smollett even hired a public relations group that emailed a statement to the media saying that “every iota” of his story to the police about being attacked by what he believed were two white Trump supporters is 100 percent true.
And a defiant Smollett will not pay any overtime costs and made a motion to dismiss the City’s lawsuit for cause.
His lawyers argue that the City failed to show he caused any overtime, and, if he did, such high overtime costs were not foreseeable by him.
The City asserted that the statements Smollet made foreseeably caused 1,836 hours of CPD overtime hours plus untold hours of non-overtime police work. As an actor, on a popular television show, “Empire,” which is filmed in Chicago [He made between $65,000-$130,000 per episode but has been written off the show because of the scandal] Smollett should have expected that reporting he was a victim of a heinous hate crime would spark a fulsome investigation.
His lawyers argue that filing a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation nor does it usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one the CPD chose to undertake. It was the police [not Smollett] who chose whether and how to investigate.
Smollett Says He’s Innocent & No One Has Proven Otherwise
Smollett’s biggest argument in defending his lawsuit is that he was not found guilty of anything [the charges were dropped]. So, why should he pay police overtime costs?
Despite Smollett being indicted on 16 felony counts of false statements, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx – possibly because there was no political gain in prosecuting Smollett to be made by Democrats – in their war against Trump – and, in fact, the opposite looming large – dropped all charges against Smollett claiming the indictment was excessive and that her office had more important cases to work on.
A Republican special prosecutor was appointed last week to look into the dropping of charges and other aspects of the allegedly bogus hate crime. The Republican special prosecutor, former US attorney Dan K. Webb, was appointed by Judge Michael Toomin, also a Republican, making the special prosecution clearly partisan. Webb has the authority to convene a grand jury and indict Smollett or anyone else connected to the matter.
Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed Smollett Argues
Still, as Smollett’s lawyers argue, as it stands today, in the eyes of the law, Smollett is an innocent man.
Smollett’s attorneys, William J. Quinlan and David E. Hutchinson, argue that the City trying to collect overtime from Smollett is “perverse” and “an unprecedented effort to seek penalties and resources expended in connection with allegedly false statements made to the police where the related criminal case concerning the statements was dismissed.”
Smollett’s lawyers argue, “The City of Chicago seeks to recoup investigative and other costs from Mr. Smollett despite the fact that all criminal charges against him were dismissed in their entirety and he is presumed innocent under the law.”
They even allege a “vindictive” motive.
“This unprecedented civil case was filed simply because former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagreed with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s decision to dismiss the false police report charges against Mr. Smollett.”
If the civil case is not dismissed, a jury trial on the overtime battle is expected to be held in June 2020 and will take two to three days to complete, it is estimated.
By the time it goes to civil trial, it may be already established by the special prosecutor and perhaps by a criminal jury that Smollett is guilty.
Or maybe not.
The Osundairo brothers will likely testify again before the special prosecutor’s grand jury, and this time, there will be no friendly Democratic prosecutor to arrange to drop charges against Smollett so that the Osundairos never tell their side of the story.
For his part, an angry Smollett says he is contemplating filing a lawsuit against the City for their bad conduct underlying his arrest and for police bad conduct in arresting him. His claims, his lawyers say, may include constitutional claims and state law claims.