Chicago mayor, top cop say dropping charges against Jussie Smollett a “whitewash of justice”

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

(CHICAGO) -- After charges against Empire star Jussie Smollett were dropped Tuesday in Chicago, the city's mayor and the Chicago Police Department are reacting to the news.

Smollett had been indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct and filing a false report after he claimed that he had been the victim of a January 29 racially-motivated attack.

In a joint press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reiterated their belief that Smollett intentionally staged the January 29 incident, and accused the Empire actor of receiving preferential treatment from the Illinois State Attorney's Office.

"This is without a doubt a whitewash of justice," Emanuel said. "There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop."

Johnson said he was surprised to learn of the decision to drop charges against Smollett and claimed prosecutors brokered a deal with Smollett in secrecy.

"I'm sure we all know what happened this morning," Johnson said at his press conference. "Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is owed an apology."

Johnson added that he and Emanuel only learned about the charges being dropped when it was announced publicly.

"We found about it when you all did," Johnson said of the lack of notice from the State's Attorney Office regarding the dropped charges. "I'm sure we'll have some conversation after this. But again, at the end of the day, Mr. Smollett committed this hoax."

Emanuel noted that "a sliver" of the evidence was presented to a grand jury, which indicted Smollett. He said Smollett used race and privilege to "get off scot-free" and that the actor has shown no remorse or accountability for his actions.

“A person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people who are minorities, and you turn around and use them to advance your career?" Emmanuel said. "Is there no decency in this man?"

While it was not immediately clear what prompted prosecutors to drop the charges against Smollett, a spokesperson for the Cook County State Attorney's Office noted that the actor will forfeit a $10,000 bond.

Smollett spoke publicly this morning, thanking his attorneys, friends, the citizens of Chicago and "the state of Illinois for attempting to do what is right."

21st Century Fox – which produces Empire – is now a part of Disney, ABC’s parent company.

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