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Law & the Courts

Chicago Sues Jussie Smollett for Cost of Police Overtime

Actor Jussie Smollett makes a court appearance at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Illinois, March 14, 2019. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Pool via Reuters)

Outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration filed suit Thursday against Empire actor Jussie Smollett to recoup the cost of the police overtime dedicated to solving the hoax hate crime that Smollett allegedly staged against himself.

“The Law Department has filed a civil complaint against Mr. Smollett in the Circuit Court of Cook County that pursues the full measure of damages allowed under the false statements ordinance,” Department of Law spokesperson Bill McCaffrey said in a statement. “This follows his refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019.”

The Cook County state attorney’s office last month dropped all charges against Smollett without requiring that he admit to staging a bigoted, politically-motivated attack on himself. Smollett’s attorneys have since refused to pay the $1130,106 that police demanded and warned the city not sue for the money, writing in a letter sent last week that their client “will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”

The lawsuit, which was obtained by the Chicago Tribune, lays out the evidence police recovered during their investigation, including the testimony provided by the two men Smollett allegedly hired to stage the attack, video evidence of those men buying the items used in the attack, and the checks Smollett made out to them for $3,500 for their services.

Cook County state attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to drop the 16-count indictment against Smollett despite that evidence has drawn harsh criticism from Emanuel, who called it a “whitewash of justice.” Police superintendent Eddie Johnson also lambasted the 37-year-old actor for damaging Chicago’s reputation and attacked Foxx for failing to punish the behavior.

Smollett’s lawyers maintain his innocence and, in the letter sent to the city last week, criticized Johnson and Emanuel for their reaction to the charges being dropped, writing that the pair owed their client an apology “for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud.”

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