It’s no secret that police are ripping mad over the Jussie Smollett case being totally dropped.  But now with the case being reopened, it’s game on.  And they’ve started by releasing nearly 70 hours of video footage, including body cam video of the alleged staged attack.

The same body cam that Smollett asked police to turn off as soon as he realized they were recording.

In case some need a recap of the Jussie Smollett saga, here goes.

Jussie Smollett

(Flicker)

 

Jan. 29 |Smollett files a police report on claiming he was the victim of an attack by two masked men shouting racial and homophobic slurs. Authorities call the incident a possible hate crime. Smollett also told police that his attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country.”

Jan. 30 |Smollett leaves hospital as public condemns the attack.

Jan. 31 |President Trump calls the incident “horrible,” adding that it “doesn’t get worse” when asked about it in the Oval Office.

Feb. 11 |Police call Smollett’s phone records ‘limited and redacted’, not meeting the burden for a criminal investigation.

Feb. 13 |Two suspects are detained for questioning.

Feb. 15 |Suspects are released without charges.

Feb. 16 |Police say the investigation has ‘shifted’.

Feb. 19 |State attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from investigation.

Feb. 20 |Smollett is criminally charged for filing false police report.

Feb. 21 |Smollett turns himself in, is arrested and released after posting $10,000 bond. In a news conference shortly after the actor’s arrest, police Supt. Eddie T. Johnson says that “Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Feb. 22 |Smollett’s ‘Empire’ character is written off this season.

Feb. 28 |Brothers regret involvement in incident.

March 7 |Smollett is charged with 16 felonies.

March 14 |Smollett pleads not guilty. Smollett’s next court date is scheduled for April 17.

March 26 |All charges are dropped. Smollett forfeits the $10,000 bond he posted after his arrest.

March 28 |Chicago issues a bill to Smollett for $130,106 to cover police overtime costs.

April 4 |Deadline to pay bill passes; civil action threatened.

 

Chicago police released their investigative files and video Monday of the alleged staged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in late January, according to an article posted by ABC7 Chicago.

 

The police released close to 70 hours of video, all related to the Smollett case. Among the footage, the first encounter between CPD and Smollett and his manager. In it, his manager can be heard saying “he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of this.”

Later in the video, after Smollett removes the rope from around his neck, they can be heard asking the police to turn off their body-worn cameras and stop recording.

Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett

 

Why would anyone do that? If the attack were as savage and racial motivated as they were claiming, why would they not want their to be some level of documented evidence? Anyone who has an investigative background was starting to look at the details of this case and began to poke holes in Smollett’s story.

Jussie Smollett

It created quite a bit of controversy when they announced that all 16 felony charges were being dropped. That decision is already under a separate review by the county’s inspector general. A special prosecutor will soon be appointed to investigate why Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the case and whether Smollett should be re-charged.

Re-charged? Doesn’t this violate the “double jeopardy” concept? Fortunately, it doesn’t. Double jeopardy has two caveats to them:

  1. You can be tried for the same crime at both the state and federal level.
  2. For double jeopardy to apply, you need to actually be tried on the charges the first time.

Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts. Those charges were eventually dropped. Justice may still be served in this matter.

He may wind up in court on those 16 counts after all. The special prosecutor’s investigation may see to that.  You know you have gotten away with something when even Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and Obama Chief of Staff, called this a “whitewash of justice.” Prosecutors say that that the dismissal was not an exoneration.

At the end of the day, if Smollett did in fact falsify his report and this attack was a hoax, he needs to be held accountable. But putting a side the fact that what he is accused of doing is a crime, there are other societal and logistical issues that come from this type of circumstance.

We already have an extreme amount of racial tension in certain areas of our nation.

There are legitimate violent crimes that take place based on racism and ‘homophobia.’ These crimes need to be addressed.

There is no room in our society for calls to violence over skin color or sexual preference. We certainly do not have room for the fires of hatred to be fueled by works of fiction. There is no room for pitting people against one another, especially over political ideology.

Logistically, every hour that an officer is on the street, whether patrolling or investigating, is valuable.

They must be given ample time to serve their communities, effectively and efficiently. Spending so much time chasing a fake attack, that you burn more than $130K in overtime, is a complete insult to our men and women in law enforcement and the mission that they are trying to fulfill.

It looks like Smollett will have his day in court. If he is found guilty, he will get what he deserves. If he is found innocent or not guilty, we can only hope it is because they evidence led a jury of his peers to that conclusion, rather than for political grandstanding.   

On Friday, a judge ordered that a special prosecutor be tapped to independently investigate charges that actor Jussie Smollett faked a racist hate crime against himself. 

That prosecutor will also be asked with investigating the prosecutors’ abrupt decision in March to drop the felony counts against him.

It was a sharp ruling from the judge concerning the decision by Kim Foxx, the Cook County state’s attorney, to “separate herself” from the investigation and appoint her deputy, Joseph Magats, to oversee the case.

Judge Michael P. Toomin said the decision raised “problematic concerns” and argues the proper procedure should have involved Ms. Foxx asking the court to appoint a special prosecutor.

That’s not what she did and so Judge Toomin wrote that Foxx’s breach of protocol resulted in a “fictitious office” with no “legal existence” having control over the Smollett case.

“There was and is no legally cognizable office of acting state’s attorney known to our statutes or to the common law,” the judge wrote. “Its existence was only in the eye or imagination of its creator, Kim Foxx.”

Foxx put out her own statement Friday saying she disagreed with the judge’s conclusion that a special prosecutor was required.

Kim Foxx is the State’s Attorney for Cook County. (Facebook)

 

She says she was just doing what her chief ethics officer, April Perry, told her to do.

Not true, said Perry, who issued her own rebuke.  Perry left the office soon after the charges were dropped, and said in a statement that this wasn’t the case at all.

She claims that in February she advised that Magats to ask a court to appoint a special prosecutor. She says Magats responded that Ms. Foxx had decided against it.

“Ultimately, the state’s attorney has a tremendous amount of discretion on a wide range of issues, and we must rely upon the state’s attorney to exercise good judgment in the public’s interest,” Ms. Perry said.

Smollett, who turned 37 on Friday, now faces big troubles.  He had been accused of paying to friends to stage an attack against him, where they shouted racist and homophobic slurs and placed a noose around his neck, pretending to be Trump supporters.

On March 26, after Smollett forfeited the $10,000 bond paid for his release, the office suddenly dropped all 16 felony counts against him, saying he wasn’t a threat to public safety.

maligned

Jussie Smollet booking photo. (Chicago Police Department)

 

There was an outpouring of anger from Chicago’s mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, and Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent.

In his decision, Judge Toomin wrote that the appointment of a special prosecutor was meant to “restore the public confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system.”

Now while it doesn’t specifically mean that Smollett will face charges again, Judge Toomin gave the special prosecutor carte blanche to reopen the case “if reasonable grounds exist”. That means they can also bring charges against anyone else believed to have committed a crime in the course of the case.

It all comes after a petition from a retired appellate judge in Illinois, Sheila O’Brien, for a special prosecutor to be appointed.

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Foxx has been adamantly against it, saying another investigation would simply duplicate the work of the Cook County inspector general. 

On top of that, she said there was no conflict of interest in the case and that O’Brien had no power, as a civilian with no role in the case, to make the request that she did.

While Judge Toomin agreed there wasn’t evidence of a conflict of interest, he rejected her other arguments.

Foxx’s office fired back, saying Perry’s advice “was not correct” because without a conflict of interest, there was no need for a special prosecutor.

O’Brien celebrated outside of court, saying she was looking forward to getting the “whole truth” of what happened in the case.

“I have no interest in the outcome of this particular case,” she said. “My interest was in the process, that the process fulfill the law. It did not fulfill the law at the time and now the process is back on track.”

Gloria Schmidt is a lawyer for Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo.  They are the brothers who say Smollett paid them to stage the attack.  Schmidt also praised Judge Toomin’s ruling, saying it made “perfect sense.”

Smollett

Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo told police they were paid by Smollett to help stage the attack. (Image via Fox News)

 

“You can’t just create an office,” Ms. Schmidt said, “which is effectively what State’s Attorney Foxx did.”

Smollett’s lawyer had no comment.

Ever since the debacle, Smollett’s acting role in the Fox drama “Empire” has been in question.

Smollett was written out of the final two episodes of the most recent season, and there’s no word on whether he’ll come back in the show’s sixth and final season.

Foxx’s office has been under a microscope for months now.

At first, she said she was recusing herself… but later, officials said the word “recusal” wasn’t accurate and that Foxx was simply separating herself from it while her deputies took over.

Kim Foxx

 

The state’s attorney’s office publicly said Foxx was off the case because of her previous contact with Smollett’s representatives.

But last month, documents obtained by the media through open-records requests showed Foxx texting a colleague a different explanation.

She said she was removing herself because there were rumors that Ms. Foxx was “related or closely connected to the Smolletts”.

She said it was a rumor that “pervasive” in the Chicago Police Department.

“I thought it was dumb but acquiesced,” Ms. Foxx said of the suggestion that she recuse herself.

As for the rumors? She wrote, “It’s actually just racist.”

In other texts that she sent colleagues after she’d allegedly taken herself off the case, she said her office was treating Smollett too harshly.

In his ruling, the judge didn’t actually name a special prosecutor.  One possibility is that one will be appointed from a different county.