By Barnini Chakraborty
Published March 27, 2019
After publicly blasting the decision to drop 16 charges against embattled "Empire" star Jussie Smollett, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering suing the actor to recoup some of the money the city wasted on the lengthy investigation, according to reports.
Emanuel wants to recoup close to $150,000, CBS News reported. Charges against Smollett were dropped after 16 hours of community service and an agreement to forfeit his $10,000, a figure Emanuel said Tuesday "doesn't even come close to what the city spent in resources" on the case.
While the exact cost of the Smollett investigation is unknown, 24 detectives were removed from regular cases, expending up to 1,000 hours, overtime not included to work on the Smollett case. Police also spent dozens of hours of examining surveillance video from 55 city pod cams and private cameras. They also executed 50 search warrants and subpoenas for phone, social media and financial documents. During the 23-day investigation, Chicago was also hit with at least 20 murders and 134 sexual assaults, according to the Chicago Police Department's crime statistics.
Both Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were visibly furious Tuesday after hearing that prosecutors had abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett, abandoning the high-profile criminal case only five weeks after the allegations were filed.
Emanuel, who leaves office in May after two terms, said Wednesday it was unconscionable for prosecutors to dismiss the case.
"This is actually making a fool of all of us," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Emanuel said he wanted to "get to the bottom of this."
"Especially [in] a city that embraced not only him as an actor but more importantly the values of being whoever you are, whoever you love, whatever your background is, you have a home here. He took that, turned it around and tried to self-promote himself. And the fact is, he's walking around with no sense of contrition, no sense of remorse, and the fact is also the state's attorney is saying he's actually guilty of this hoax, and he's walking around saying, 'No, I'm innocent.'," Emanuel fumed.
Johnson, the city's top cop, said Tuesday that Smollett still owes Chicago an apology.
"If you want to say you're innocent of the situation, you take your day in court," said Johnson. "I would never hide behind a brokered deal in secrecy, period."
Smollett reported on Jan. 29 that he was attacked around 2 a.m. on his way home from a sandwich shop. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and tied a rope around his neck. He claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country” — a reference to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Smollett told police he could see that one of his attackers was white because he could see the skin around his eyes.
The news of such a heinous attack quickly garnered national attention. The Chicago police were taken to task for failing to protect their citizens or find the assailants behind the brutal beatdown.
Soon though, the tides shifted and investigators accused Smollett of making the whole thing up because he was unhappy with his pay on "Empire" and believed the publicity ginned up from the incident would promote his career.
Smollett plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on "Empire," a Fox television show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording history.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on Feb. 20. A few days later, a grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities — eight counts for what he told the officer who responded to the report of the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago, and eight counts for what he later told a detective about being the victim of a brutal racist and homophobic beating by two masked men.
A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work. Chicago police pushed back and accused Smollett of faking the letter as well.
For his part, Smollett has always maintained his innocence. After the charges were dropped Tuesday, he posed with fans outside the courthouse and thanked his friends and family for standing by him. He also thanked the state of Illinois for "attempting to do what's right."
“Not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” he said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.