In the latest twist in what was already a very convoluted story, all charges were dropped Tuesday against Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor who had been accused of staging a hate crime attack against himself in late January, per The Inquisitr.
Now, Smollett has faced the press, and declared that he has been telling the truth all along.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” Smollett said before news microphones on Tuesday, immediately after exiting the courtroom, per ABC News. He went on to thank his friends and supporters, and to express a desire to “get back to work and move on with my life.”
It is not yet clear exactly why the charges were dropped in Smollett’s case. The move came after the actor appeared for an “emergency court hearing” in Chicago earlier on Tuesday.
Mark Geragos, the famed attorney who was implicated on Monday in Michael Avenatti’s alleged extortion plot against Nike, appears to still represent Smollett. Geragos issued a statement on Smollett’s behalf on Tuesday, stating on Twitter that Smollett “was a victim and was victimized again in a rush to judgment.”
The Smollett saga began on January 29, when the actor claimed that he was attacked by two men late at night on a cold evening in Chicago. He claimed that the two men shouted racist and anti-gay slogans at him, and even placed a rope around his neck. Smollett is both black and openly gay.
No, seriously. What actually happened? https://t.co/OnGofY21i7— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 26, 2019
For the ensuing month, the story was frequently questioned, with local media in Chicago receiving frequent leaks — presumably from police sources — questioning various parts of Smollett’s story. Throughout, the Chicago Police Department’s leadership continued to refer to him as a victim.
The actor continued to stand firm, even in national television interviews, until two men who claimed to be his co-conspirators told police that Smollett had staged the attack with their help.
"Now I'd like nothing more than to just get back to work and move on with my life," Smollett says after charges are dropped.— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 26, 2019
"But make no mistake, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere." https://t.co/llZlJ934Wn pic.twitter.com/bmVOlKh3PR
The actor was then charged with 16 felony counts, per NBC News, for charges that he had filed a false police report. This led to speculation that Smollett would be fired from his job on Empire, although — as of now — he has only been removed from the season’s final episodes.
Meanwhile, CBS Chicago reported that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who had ripped into the actor publicly after the charges were announced, is “angry” and “furious” that the charges were dropped — and that he was given no notice regarding the development.