Moments after Jussie Smollett was cleared of all charges related to his alleged involvement in staging a racially profiled attack on himself, the ‘Empire’ star addressed his fans, family, and the world to give his thanks to those who believed and ‘prayed’ for him.
UPDATE (3/27/19), 9:30 PM EST: The FBI is now reportedly reviewing “the circumstances” surrounding “the dismissal” of Jussie Smollett’s 16 felony disorderly conduct charges on March 26, which two unnamed law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC7. HollywoodLife has reached out to the FBI for comment.
UPDATE (3/26/19), 6:15 PM EST: TMZ reports that Jussie Smollett completed two days of community service with Jesse Jackson‘s the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and “that was enough to satisfy prosecutors in Chicago.” The site reports that sources at Rainbow PUSH say Smollett completed 8 hours of work on Sat. March 23 and 10 hours on Mon. March 25, the day before the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against the actor. His duties included stuffing envelopes, advising their music director on how to put a choir together and critiquing the group’s Saturday broadcast according to the site.
UPDATE (3/26/19), 1:15 PM EST: Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued the following statement after the charges against Smollett were dropped: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
ORIGINAL: Jussie Smollett, 36, addressed the public for the first time on the day his Chicago Based-attorney, Ronald Safer confirmed to HollywoodLife that all charges will be dropped against him. The Empire actor admitted that he’s been “truthful on every level” throughout the investigation, in which he was accused of faking a racial attack against himself in Chicago on January 29. The full transcript of Smollett’s statement is below, along with a live video outside a Chicago courthouse, where his hearing took place on March 26.
“First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me and showed me so much love,” Smollett said when he addressed the media after an emergency hearing in Chicago. “No one will ever know how much that has meant to me and I will forever be grateful. I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vein. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every level since day one. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.”
“This has been an incredibly difficult time,” Smollett added. “Honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But, I am a man of faith and i am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family or the lives of the movement through the fire like this, I just wouldn’t. So, I want thank my legal counsel from the bottom of my heart. And, I’d also like to thank the state of Illinois for attempting to do what’s right. Now, I’d like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life. But, make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again thank you for all of the support, thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless y’all. Thank you very much.”
BREAKING: Jussie Smollett speaks after all charges were dropped: "I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of." https://t.co/B2ahaJAW4t pic.twitter.com/0bgEBJFN33
— ABC News (@ABC) March 26, 2019
Smollett’s statement came after prosecutors dismissed all 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against the actor, after he was accused of allegedly staging a racially public attack on himself outside a Chicago Subway restaurant back in January. “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” a spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Fox said. “We standby the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case.”
Smollett’s family released the following statement after the charges were dropped: “Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. While many were quick to rush to judgment before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank god and our village for standing by us during this trying time.”
If you haven’t been following Smollett’s situation, it all began on January 22 when a racist and homophobic letter, addressed to Smollett arrived at the offices of Fox’s Empire. It was also reported that the letter contained white powder. Less than a week later, Smollett was allegedly attacked on Monday night, January 29 by two men in ski masks, he claimed to police. He alleged that the men approached him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, beat him and wrapped a noose around his neck. During a February 2 performance at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Smollett told his audience that he fought back against his attackers.
Fifteen days after Smollett’s alleged attack, Chicago police arrested two men in connection with incident on February 13. The men were later identified as Nigerian brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were reportedly extras on Empire in 2015. Just one day after the arrests, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America for his first sit-down interview since the alleged attack, where he stood by his original story. He also admitted that he was “pissed off” that people would doubt his story, which he repeatedly called “the truth.” The next day, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were released form police custody without being charged.
As reports continued suggest Smollett staged the attack, he officially became a suspect on February 20. He turned himself into Chicago police on February 21, where he was later indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct on March 8. Smollett pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts on March 14, and a court date was set for April 17. However, Smollett will not be attending court, seeing as all 16 counts were dropped on March 26, in what’s now being called a “stunning reversal” of fortune.