After being cleared of all charges in his attack case, Empire actor Jussie Smollett told reporters outside a Chicago courthouse that he “just wants to get back to work and move on with my life” and continue fighting for justice and equality. But his attorney gave a firm “next question” when asked if Smollett would take any legal recourse against the city of Chicago or the two brothers who claimed the actor took part in a hoax.
Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, told reporters outside the courtroom that her client is “a good, solid citizen of the city of Chicago” and that the money paid by Smollett to the Osundairo brothers was for nutrition and physical training, “exactly what Jussie said.”
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The brief press conference took place on a bizarre day in a bizarre case, with all criminal charges against Smollett dismissed and his record expunged.
After Brown Holmes reiterated to reporters that the state’s dismissal of criminal charges was not the result of a plea deal, she explained that Smollett had agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond money voluntarily so as to move on with his life. Brown Holmes said the practice was a common one.
Smollett, replacing Brown Holmes at the mics, said: “I just made a couple notes. First of all I want to thank my family, my friends, the incredible people of Chicago and all over the country and the world who have prayed for me, who have supported me and who have showed me so much love. No one will ever know how much that has meant to me, and I will be forever grateful.”
The actor continued: “I want you to know that not for a moment was it in vain. I have been truthful and consistent on every level since Day 1. I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I’ve been accused of.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time — honestly one of the worst of my entire life,” Smollett continued, “but I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.
“Now,” he said, “I’d like nothing more than to get back to work and move on with my life. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice, equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere. So again thank you for all the support. Thank you for faith and thank you to God. Bless you. Thank you very much.”
Before Smollett spoke, attorney Brown Holmes described the dropping of charges against her client as “the correct result” and repeatedly castigated, though didn’t identify or name, the Chicago police or prosecutors who spoke out against Smollett in the press without, she said, fully investigating the case.
“I have no idea what occurred in this case or why it occurred,” she said. “Things seemed to spiral somewhat out of control.”
Brown Holmes most likely was referring to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who appeared on Good Morning America February 25 to discuss the case, saying at the time, “There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support [Smollett’s] version of what happened.”
Chicago police at the time stated that a $3,500 check written by Smollett to Abimbola Osundairo was part of a hoax attack involving the actor, Osundairo and Osundairo’s brother, Olabinjo. Police said Smollett was motivated by a desire for attention and for a raise in salary on Fox’s Empire.
Smollett has maintained from the start — and Brown Holmes reiterated today — that he paid Abimbola Osundairo for a five-week nutrition and workout program.
Asked by a reporter today, once again, who attacked Smollett, Holmes said that the attackers are “the two men” who “indicated” that they did so, referring to the Osundairo brothers. She added that Smollett and his legal team want a police investigation (or a continued investigation) into the brothers but said, “We don’t want to try them in the press any more than [Smollett] wanted to be tried in the press.”
She added: “I have nothing to say to police except to investigate and don’t try their cases in the press. Don’t jump ahead and utilize the press and convict people before they’re tried in a court of law.”
Smollett pleaded not guilty at a March 14 arraignment on a 16-count indictment of lying to Chicago police stemming from the January 29 incident in which, Smollett claimed, he was attacked by two masked men outside a Subway restaurant in Chicago. The men, he said, made homophobic and racist comments, poured bleach on him and placed a rope around his neck like a noose. Smollett said the men said, “This is MAGA country.”
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