Calling himself a man of faith, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that he felt vindicated after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said it would drop all charges against him in an alleged hate crime hoax.
Smollett was accused of faking an anti-black, anti-gay hate crime in Chicago in order to drum up publicity for his role on the Fox drama.
Smollett, who posed with fans outside the courthouse, thanked his friends and family for standing by him.
“Not for a moment was it in vain. I’ve been truthful and consistent on every level since day one,” he said. “I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of. “
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on Feb. 20. A few days later, a grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities — eight counts for what he told the officer who responded to the report of the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago, and eight counts for what he later told a detective about being the victim of a brutal racist and homophobic beating by two masked men.
Smollett claimed two men beat him, poured bleach on him and placed a rope around his neck before yelling, “This is MAGA country.”
A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work. Chicago police pushed back and accused Smollett of faking the letter as well.
Fox News has learned the judge on Tuesday granted a nolle pros, which essentially means that the case has been dropped and that Smollett will no longer be prosecuted for the alleged crime.
It’s unclear at this time why the court decided not to proceed with prosecution.
Doubt was cast on the open-and-shut nature of the case when Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham wrote the Justice Department following reports that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx asked Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to let the FBI investigate Smollett’s allegations that he was attacked by two masked men after the former chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama allegedly informed Foxx that Smollett’s family had concerns about the probe.
According to local reports, Johnson was blindsided by Tuesday’s events and is expected to address the situation later in the day.
Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that Smollett’s record “has been wiped clean.”
Anne Kavanaugh, the crisis manager the actor hired, said Smollet is a “victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement.”
A rep for Fox, which produces and airs “Empire,” said the studio and network had no immediate comment.
A spokeswoman for Cook County prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to messages requesting comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.