Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would ask “Empire” star Jussie Smollett to foot the bill for his own criminal investigation.
“The police are right now finalizing the cost that was used, police resources to come to the understanding this was a hoax and not a real hate crime,” Emanuel said in an interview Thursday on Chicago’s WGN Radio. “What we spent. The corporation counsel, once they have the finalized and feel good about the numbers, will then send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorneys, trying to recoup those costs for the city.”
Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts earlier this month, with investigators saying the actor staged an attack on himself and filed a false police report back in January. On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped all of the charges, citing Smollett’s voluntary community service and mandating that he forfeit his $10,000 bond payment to the city.
Emanuel now says that his office and the Chicago Police Department will ask Smollett to pay even more.
“It is a small way of both acknowledging, one, guilt, two, that we spent these resources and the taxpayers deserve, at minimum — because I think there’s a whole other level of ethical costs,” he said. “Because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent, everything I said from day one is true’ — that actually we’re going to get the resources back. But come with those resources is, implicitly, if you pay it, that the city spent money to uncover what the grand jury discovered.”
Prosecutors have been vocal about the fact that their decision to drop the charges against Smollett was not reflective of the actor’s guilt or innocence.
“We stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case,” First Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Magats said in an interview with the New York Times following the decision. “The mere fact that it was disposed of in an alternative manner does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities in the case or the evidence.”
Emanuel himself called the prosecutor’s decision “a whitewash of justice.”
Smollett, for his part, has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, saying he was the victim of a hate crime on Jan. 31 when two men attacked him on the street outside of his apartment.
In a statement following Emanuel’s radio interview, the actor’s defense team issued a statement saying Smollett would not pay for the investigation: “It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie — owe him an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough.”