Officials in Chicago have dropped the charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime against himself, his attorneys said in a statement Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 felony counts for allegedly staging the January attack and lying to officials.
“Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” his lawyers said in a statement, continuing to maintain that Smollett was “a victim” and “vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.”
“We’re very happy for this result and we are very anxious for Jussie to get on with his career and his life,” Smollett attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said during a press conference shortly after the statement.
Holmes declined to comment about the details of the case, saying that it “had spiraled out of control.”
“We have nothing to say to the police department, except to investigate charges and not try cases in the press,” Holmes said.
The case has been sealed, and the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said it had reached an “agreement” with Smollett and his attorneys rather than a plea deal, so Smollett will not be required to perform community service.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case … we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the office said in a statement.
Foxx recused herself from the Smollett investigation last month “out of an abundance of caution” based on her “familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” her office had said in a statement.
Text messages obtained by ABC 7 allegedly showed the Smollett family reached out to Foxx to say they were concerned about potential leaks in the investigation. The family wanted Foxx to ask Chicago police to hand over the investigation to the FBI, ABC 7 reported.
Smollett’s family said that “he has been vindicated.”
“Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared,” the family said in a statement. “Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of. He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack.”
In January, Smollett claimed that two men attacked him in Chicago, alleging that they shouted racist and homophobic slurs and wrapped a noose around him. But police later said the “Empire” actor hired the two men to stage the attack in order to obtain a pay raise.
A Chicago Police Department representative told HuffPost “no comment” when asked about the charges being dropped and referred questions about the case to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed last month that there’s more evidence on the case than what’s been released to the public.
“There’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet, and does not support the version he gave,” he told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Feb. 25. “There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support his version of what happened.”
Smollett had been represented by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos. On Monday, Geragos was accused as an unnamed co-conspirator in a case involving attorney Michael Avenatti.
A spokesman for Fox, which airs “Empire,” said the network had no comment.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.