Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has filed a counterclaim against the city of Chicago in an ongoing lawsuit by the city seeking reinbursement for $130,000 in overtime spent by Chicago police investigating Smollett’s alleged hoax hate crime.
Smollett, in papers filed Wednesday, claims that he was targeted by the city for “malicious prosecution” and it caused him “humiliation and extreme distress,” per Fox News.
“Smollett’s counterclaim targets the city, the Chicago Police Department, Detectives Michael Theis and Edward Wodnicki, Supt. Eddie Johnson and Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, along with other unnamed individuals,” adds the Chicago Sun-Times.
Smollett, of course, became the subject of a criminal investigation after detectives with the Chicago Police Department determined, after weeks of investigation, that he likely fabricated his claim that he was accosted, beaten, and called homophobic and racist “slurs” while walking back to his downtown Chicago apartment from a local Subway sandwich shop.
Smollett told police, in two separate interviews, that he was assaulted by two white men wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats, early in the morning of January 29th. The two men identified Smollett by name, he said, then beat him, threw a “noose” around his neck, and splashed a chemical substance on his clothes before yelling, “This is MAGA country!” and disappearing into the night.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Smollett may have coordinated the attack with a pair of Nigerian-American brothers who he met when they were extras on his show, “Empire.” Witness testimony seemed to indicate that Smollett planned his own attack in order to raise his profile, after his bosses on “Empire” failed to take enough notice of hate mail — a death threat scrawled in red pencil accompanied by a “white substance” that turned out to be crushed Tylenol — sent to Smollett at the show’s Chicago soundstage.
Prosecutors initially charged Smollett with sixteen counts of lying to police, but Smollett was able to avoid criminal proceedings after striking an unofficial “plea deal” with Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, which wiped his record clean in return for a $10,000 bond check and a few hours of community service.
The city, seeking justice, then calculated the cost of police overtime hours accumulated during the departments investigation of the alleged hoax and issued Smollett $130,106 bill.
When he refused to pay, the city sued, and now Smollett says they don’t deserve his money.
Smollett’s lawyers claim that investigators believed “false, self-serving, and unreliable statements” made by the two Osundario brothers “in order to close the investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett,” and that detectives did not properly investigate the real crime — the alleged hate attack.
The counterclaim also says that Smollett should avoid any further trouble with the city because his off-the-books plea deal resolved the case “in Mr. Smollett’s favor and in a manner which indicates his innocence because all 16 counts of the criminal indictment were dismissed two and a half weeks after the indictment was filed.”
Although the Cook County States Attorney inked the deal with Smollett, and he has insisted, in the wake of that resolution, that it demonstrates his innocence, representatives from the States Attorney have been clear: the bargain was to avoid the issue altogether and in no way does it demonstrate that Smollett is innocence of any charge of misleading or lying to police.
But in the event neither of those arguments work, Smollett also says the $10,000 he paid to the city as part of his agreement with prosecutors is enough to cover the cost. The $10,000, his lawyers say, can be considered “as payment in full in connection with the dismissal of the charges against him.”
Smollett and his attorneys have repeatedly asked the court to dismiss the case altogether, as well, but, recently, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall determined that the city’s case can go forward. The case is due to be heard early next year, and the two parties are currently trading motions.