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.
News of the dropped charges came as a shock to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Both men angrily pushed back at the decision.
Our officers did hard work day in and day out, countless hours working to unwind what actually happened that night. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud ... It's not just the officers' work, but the work of the grand jury that made a decision based on only a sliver of the evidence [presented]," he continued. "Because of the judge's decision, none of that evidence will ever be made public."
Johnson added, "If someone ever falsely accused me [of a crime], I would never hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy."
A brief timeline of events:
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.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 events:
It's unclear at this time why the court decided not to proceed with prosecution. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping Cases is some acceptance of responsibility. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors' office offered no detailed explanation.
Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean. Empire actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that he felt vindicated after a stunning reversal by the Cook County State Attorney's Office to drop all charges against him in an alleged hate crime hoax.