Chicago, Illinois: The City of Chicago on Wednesday filed a civil complaint against actor Jussie Smollett trying to recoup the cost of his complaint to police that he’d been the subject of a racist and homophobic attack.
Police say he falsely reported that on Jan. 29 he was physically attacked in downtown Chicago by two masked individuals. Investigators later said Smollett staged that attack with the help of two acquaintances.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21 and a 16-count indictment was returned on March 7.
But less than 3 weeks later, prosecutors abruptly dropped the charges after the actor, who starred in the Fox TV series Empire, agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and performed community service.
Smollett has consistently denied that he faked the attack. But the City of Chicago and its police department maintain that he did and in the complaint, the city is asking for a jury trial “to recover civil penalties, statutory treble damages, and attorney’s fees and costs arising from the Defendant’s false statements to the City.”
The complaint outlines the allegations against Smollett in detail, citing text messages, GPS records and statements made to police by his alleged accomplices. The complaint says Smollett “knowingly made numerous false statements of material fact” and is asking for a civil penalty of $1000 for each of those statements.
In addition, the complaint states that the Chicago Police Department incurred $130, 106.15 in overtime pay and the complaint is asking for triple that amount in damages plus “litigation and collection costs, and attorneys’ fees.”
A spokesperson for Smollett declined to comment at the time this story was filed.
After initially being treated as a victim Smollett was accused of staging the attack and became the subject of the police investigation, but the charges against the actor were dropped last week.
Prosecutors say they still believe the Empire star faked the attack.
The charges were dropped because Smollett forfeited a $10,000 bond payment and carried out community service, according to Illinois prosecutor Joe Magats.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel called it a “a whitewash of justice” and claimed Smollett had dragged the city’s reputation “through the mud”.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 27, 2019
In the initial letter demanding $130,000, which includes overtime hours police used on the case, the City of Chicago said: “As part of the investigation, Chicago police reviewed video and physical evidence and conducted several interviews, expending resources that could have been used for other investigations.
“Ultimately, the Chicago police investigation revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your own attack.”
A new Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, was elected on Wednesday and will be sworn in on 20 May.
She said following her victory that there needs to be a “much more fulsome explanation” as to why the charges against Smollett were dropped.
“We cannot create the perception that if you’re rich or famous or both that you get one set of justice, and for everybody else it’s something much harsher,” she said.
“That won’t do and we need to make sure that we have a criminal justice system that has integrity.”