In Chicago, Jussie Smollett, many people agree, got away with a heinous staged hate-crime. After prosecutors decided to abruptly drop the charges against him for faking an attack by “MAGA wearing white guys,” the police force was furious.
Now, a judge has ordered prosecutors to unseal the documents surrounding the incident.
The records were sealed in March shortly after charges against Smollett were abruptly dropped by prosecutors. Attorneys representing the media, including ABC7, challenged the sealing of the records.
As a result, nearly 300 pages of court filings were released by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office on Thursday.
“This is about transparency and trust in the system and we believe the public has a right to know what the government did here and why,” media attorney Natalie Spears said.
The judge said Smollett might have been entitled to privacy and keeping the records sealed if he hadn’t given a nationally-televised interview about the incident on “Good Morning America.”
“These are not the actions of a person seeking privacy. It was not necessary for him to address this so publicly and to such an extent,” Judge Steven Watkins wrote.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has long been critical of how the state’s attorney handled the case.
“We at FOP have done our part to make sure that justice and the light of justice has been shown on this case,” said Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx released a statement saying she supports unsealing the records and that her office plans to release more material related to the investigation next week.
While there is little new in what was released by the state’s attorney’s office Thursday, Chicago police said they have more than 600 pages of evidence as well as videotape and other physical evidence. They plan to release what they can next week.
The “Empire” actor faced several charges for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January.
The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood on January 29. He said two men physically attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical liquid on him and looped a rope around his neck.
Two days after the alleged attack, Chicago police released surveillance images of two people they said they considered persons of interest in the attack.
But the investigation turned on Smollett. He was accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with the Osundairo brothers, who he knew. One brother was an extra on “Empire” and the other was Smollett’s personal trainer.
Prosecutors said Smollett paid the brothers to pull off the staged attack.
Smollett had also reported a threatening letter sent to him on the “Empire” set containing a white powder, a week before the alleged attack. The letter is currently in the FBI crime lab for analysis, sources said, and experts believe Smollett could face federal charges for allegedly sending the letter.
All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.
If, as Smollett claims, he is innocent, why is there so much evidence against that fact? And why did this buddy of the elite left get the charges completely dropped?
Hopefully, the unsealed records will deliver answers to these and other questions.