The city of Chicago sued Jussie Smollett for more than $130,000 on Thursday to recover the cost of police overtime spent looking into an alleged hate crime against him.
The “Empire” actor has been accused of orchestrating the Jan. 29 assault, during which he says two men yelled racist and anti-gay slurs while beating him, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapping a rope around his neck. Smollett, 36, was indicted on 16 felony counts in early March for allegedly lying to police about the altercation – one count per alleged lie – but Cook County prosecutors dropped all criminal charges on March 26, citing his two days of community service and agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, a Democrat, joined other city officials in criticizing the prosecutors’s decision, calling it “a whitewash of justice.” Two days later, the Department of Law sent Smollett a letter that threatened legal action if he didn’t pay for the overtime costs within a week. It also noted that, if he were prosecuted, he could be fined up to three times the amount. Smollett refused to pay. He maintains his innocence and, as he said after his charges were dropped, holds that he “would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of.”
The city filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, stating that the Chicago Police Department “expended significant resources” looking into Smollett’s claims. Police say more than 24 officers and detectives took part in the weekslong investigation, ultimately incurring 1,836 hours of overtime pay, costing $130,106. The city will also seek attorney fees and litigation costs, as well as a civil penalty of $1,000 for each of Smollett’s alleged lies.
Representatives for Smollett, who has been written out of the last two episodes of “Empire’s” current season, declined to comment on the city’s lawsuit.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Sonia Rao ·