Jussie Smollett Lawyers Say Actor Didn’t Know Alleged Hate Crime Would Prompt ‘Extensive Investigation’
A famous actor on a hit TV show didn’t know that if he faked a hate attack, police would conduct an extensive investigation.
That’s the contention of Jussie Smollett’s lawyers, who argue that the “Empire” actor shouldn’t have to pay $130,000 to cover the costs of police investigating what Chicago’s top cop said was a staged racist and homophobic attack.
“Mr. Smollett has always maintained and continues to maintain his innocence,” Smollett’s lawyers said in a court filing on Wednesday. “Yet the City’s claims and purported damages are a vindictive effort to prosecute charges that the State’s Attorney pursued and then chose to drop.”
The attorneys said that Smollett could not have known his police report after the alleged January attack would prompt 1,836 hours of police overtime, which caused the $130,000 cost.
The lawyers said the city “fails to identify any allegations that would plausibly show that Mr. Smollett, as opposed to the officials at the CPD or the State’s Attorney’s office, caused the City to incur the alleged costs.”
“The filing of a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation nor does it, as a practical matter, usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one the CPD chose to undertake in this case; rather, the filing of a police report enables the police and prosecutors to decide whether and how to investigate,” the filing said.
Smollett’s attorneys also their client did not force police to do an exhaustive probe.
“(T)he Complaint does not suggest or allege that the CPD investigation was an ordinary and reasonable consequence of Mr. Smollett’s allegedly false statements. The Opposition attempts to remedy this omission by asserting that “the entire purpose of reporting a crime is to enable the police to investigate,” the filing said. “But this supposition betrays the reality of the situation—a police report alone does not cause a CPD investigation nor does it cause the City to incur other costs.”
Smollett’s lawyers also contend he was telling the truth when he told police two white men in MAGA hats attacked him in January, saying he city had not made clear “where and to whom the alleged false statements were made.” They said the city has made it “impossible to ascertain how many false statements it contends Mr. Smollett has made, which prevents Mr. Smollett from understanding and effectively responding and preparing a defense.”
“The Complaint alleges that Mr. Smollett made one false statement to CPD officers that he was the victim of an attack. The Opposition suggests that the Complaint actually alleges at least two such false statements, first to responding officers and then to subsequent investigating officers,” the filing said. “Which is it?”
Meanwhile, city officials say Smollett “purposely misled” Chicago police when he claimed that two men who allegedly attacked him were white.
A Chicago grand jury indicted Smollett on March on 16 felony counts that he allegedly lied to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Those charges came after he was arrested in February and charged with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false police report.
But the Cook County, Illinois, state attorney’s office in March suddenly dropped all charges and sealed the case. “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’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,” the office said in a statement.