By Hollie McKay
Published March 27, 2019
Livid Chicago law enforcement officials are furious Jussie Smollett has had all 16 felony charges dismissed against him after he was accused of staging his own hate crime – and they smell a political rat.
“The Chicago Police Department is not happy. Our Superintendent expressed his displeasure about the charges being dropped,” one officer in the Chicago Police Department told Fox News. “The Department exhausted manpower and numerous hours investigating this case to make sure it was handled properly."
The wiping of the case has been seen as nothing short of a "real blow" to those in Chicago's law enforcement. The department insider also noted that they have been left scratching their heads as to why the case was suddenly sealed, thus not allowing public scrutiny, and pointed to “politics” and questionable shuffles and possible interference in handling the case.
“The police department worked super hard on this. They put a ton of manpower on it because they knew it sounded wrong from the beginning,” another former Chicago-based law enforcement source said.
"What’s interesting is that the former chief-of-staff of Michelle Obama called the state's attorney about the case, saying the (Smollett) family was concerned. Shortly after, the state's attorney recused herself and now the charges are dropped and the court has sealed the record.”
Reports emerged last week that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx had been in contact with Mrs. Obama’s former chief-of-staff, Tina Tchen, who emailed her expressing the “concerns” that the Smollett family had about the ongoing investigation. Foxx is alleged to have then spoken with a Smollett relative whose number was provided by Tchen, and subsequently reached out to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Ahead of the charges being dropped, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham alleged that Foxx may have interfered with the police probe and sought an investigation into whether Foxx herself had violated any laws.
Another retired police chief in the region told Fox News that politics has long plagued the Chicago judicial system.
“Politicians run for office promising to change the way things are done and this is what they do,” he said. “Policemen work their butts off to do a good job and this is what they get. The least a prosecutor could have done was to send it to the grand jury. It’s no wonder policemen get discouraged.”
Johnson claims to have been blindsided by the sudden dropping of charges, and others connected to law enforcement officials in Chicago told Fox News that conflict between the DA and the PD could “get pretty ugly.”
In late January, the black and openly gay actor told police that he was attacked by two men who jeered him with homophobic and racial epithets. While sympathy poured in for him from Hollywood and high-level advocacy organizations, skeptics also started to raise red flags. The two alleged assailants turned out to be brothers who previously worked with Smollett, and told investigators that they have been paid to assist in staging the incident.
Chicago’s Cook County State's Attorney’s Office did not specify if any information had arisen on the case, and simply stated that “after reviewing all of the facts and circumstances, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his [$10,000] bond, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to the case.”
Other less pronounced theories have emerged as to why the charges were abandoned, with some in the broader law enforcement community suggesting that presumptions of guilt put forth by state officials in recent weeks may have “tainted the jury pool.”
At a press conference announcing the charges in February, Superintendent Johnson chided Smollett, questioning how an African-American man could use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations” and mandated that “bogus police reports cause real harm.” But both Johnson and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel doubled-down and again came out lambasting the actor for his “hoax” on Tuesday after the charges were tossed.
“Police should never be conducting press conferences where they convict an individual of wrongdoing because that is not their job,” said Joe Ested, a former law enforcement official and author of “Police Brutality Matters."
“The job of law enforcement is to gather all evidence and present it to the prosecutor. When you hear of a dismissal of this nature, it usually comes from improper police procedures or misconduct somewhere during the evidence gathering.
“It can be police omitting evidence, selectively interviewing witnesses and taking only certain statements into consideration but not all of the evidence; or it can be witnesses changing their statements. Police should never have the mindset of convicting people, especially in the public arena.”