There has been another twist in the Jussie Smollett case and it’s a big one. According to CBS Chicago reporter Charlie De Mar, all 16 charges against Smollett have been dropped and his record will be expunged:

Smollett’s attorneys released a statement which reads in part, “Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

The Chicago Tribune calls the turnabout “stunning” and says no one had any idea this was coming:

In a stunning reversal, Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging a phony attack and claiming he was the victim of a hate crime.

“We believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” a prosecutor said in announcing the dismissal of all 16 counts.

There had been no clue that prosecutors planned the about-face move before the announcement. A publicist for Smollett’s attorney was the first to notify the news media Tuesday morning, issuing an alert that did not elaborate on the nature of the emergency.

This morning Smollett and his legal team arrived at the Criminal Court building and he appeared to be all smiles:

Obviously, there are a lot of outstanding questions about what happened here, starting with the Osundairo brothers. Police seemed to have a mountain of evidence they were the attackers. They were seen on security video buying supplies, including masks, the day before the attack. What happened to their story? TMZ is reporting that States Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the charges because it was unlikely Smollett would have gotten more than community service if convicted:

We’re told the State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, told Chicago police she was dropping the case because Jussie would have only gotten community service if convicted and she said he has already performed community service so there is no point in prosecuting him. We could not find any record of Smollett doing community service.

We’re told Chicago police are “furious” and feel something untoward is going on with Kim Foxx.

Foxx did try to have the FBI take over the case early on. Does this outcome mean that, in retrospect, she was on to something? Sources close to Smollett tell TMZ that the case against him had “disintegrated.” Specifically, the check which was supposedly written to pay the brothers for the attack was actually written for training in the gym. The Osundairo brothers’ attorney admitted on national television that the check was for training but said the brothers were also asked for a favor.

There’s supposed to be a press conference taking place a few minutes from now (as I write this). I’ll update this story when more information becomes available.

Update: While we’re waiting for more information…It’s interesting that last week the Chicago police union called for an investigation into Kim Foxx.

Chicago’s police union is calling for a federal investigation into the Cook County State’s Attorney’s actions in the Jussie Smollett case.

Three days after Smollett claimed he was attacked, Kim Foxx asked Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson to turn the case over to the FBI.

Did Chicago cops already have an inkling then where the Smollett case was going?

Update: Smollett’s attorney is speaking now. She clarifies that all charges against her client have been dismissed. “I have no idea what occurred in this case and why it occurred,” the attorney says. She’s refusing to explain what did happen but does not dispute that the Osundairo brothers were Smollett’s attackers.

Smollett stepped up to give a brief statement. He says he has been “truthful and consistent” from the beginning.

Here’s the video of the press conference:

Update: We’ll have to wait to see what the Osundairo brothers have to say about all this but this much is clear. Smollett is not backing away from the claim he was attacked and the brothers have admitted they did it. Plus there’s lots of evidence they did it. So there are at least two options here for what happened.

  • Option 1: The Osundairo brothers attacked their rich, famous friend in the middle of the night for reasons of their own. They then lied about it after being arrested and claimed it was Smollett’s idea from the start. Police realized the case was falling apart and dropped the charges.
  • Option 2: Smollett planned this just as the brothers claimed. However, the police got some facts wrong and the Police Superintendent was on tape saying things that weren’t quite accurate, i.e. Smollett paid for the attack by check. The States Attorney realized a competent lawyer would be able to tear the case apart based on those misstatements (again, there’s video of the errors) and decided to let it go rather than embarrass the Chicago PD with a trial that would be covered by every network 24/7.

I’m not saying these are the only two options, just the two that occur to me given what we know at this point. I’m definitely leaning toward option 2 for a couple of reasons. First, the police did seem to get ahead of the facts a bit with the check. Second, it’s extremely odd that the brothers would travel to Chicago to attack their friend and benefactor in the middle of the night and that he wouldn’t recognize them despite having spent time with them.

We’ll have to see what the brothers have to say, if anything. But if option #2 is closer to the truth then I wouldn’t expect them to be charged. If option #1 is closer to the truth then I would expect them to be worried about charges which might lead them to be very quiet. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that eventually, we’ll know more than we do now. There’s been too much attention on this for it to just drop out of sight.

Update: The police plan to respond to the dropping of charges.

And more…Assistant States Attorney says there was no problem with the case: “We did not exonerate him.”

This is just a disaster. This wasn’t just a minor street scuffle. This was major national news for weeks. As it stands Smollett is proclaiming his innocence while authorities are basically saying they decided to give him a pass on a fake hate crime because he’s not a threat to public safety. What about public sanity?

Update: Here’s CNN’s Brian Stelter saying Jussie is now a victim again.

I find this frustrating but it’s not entirely Stelter’s fault. This is what happens when the States Attorney suddenly drops all charges. Here’s the reaction from the police. They say the case was “rock solid.”

This has become an absolute cluster. What the hell is going on in Chicago?

Update: I’m watching a live press conference with Sup. Eddie Johnson. He just said, “At the end of the day it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax.” I’ll add the video momentarily…

Update: Here’s the press conference. Mayor Emanuel appears genuinely pissed off about this. He’s not just backing the police he’s calling this a “whitewash of justice.” “It is not on the level from beginning to end and there needs to be accountability throughout the system and this sends and unambiguous message that there is no accountability and that is wrong,” Emanuel said. Later in the presser, he adds, “Is there no decency in this man.”

Update: This makes no sense.