The city of Chicago sued Jussie Smollett for more than $130,000 on Thursday to recover the cost of police overtime spent looking into the alleged hate crime against him.
The “Empire” actor has been accused of orchestrating the Jan. 29 assault, during which he claims two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs while beating him, pouring an unknown chemical substance on him and wrapping a rope around his neck. Smollett, 36, was indicted on 16 felony counts in early March for allegedly lying to police about the incident — one count per lie — but Cook County prosecutors dropped all criminal charges on March 26, citing his two days of community service and agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) joined other city officials in criticizing the prosecutors’s decision, calling it “a whitewash of justice.” Two days later, the city Department of Law sent Smollett a letter that threatened legal action if he didn’t pay for the overtime costs within a week. It also noted that, if prosecuted, municipal code states that he could potentially be fined up to three times the amount. Smollett refused to pay. He maintains his innocence and, as he said after his charges were dropped, holds that he “would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of.”
The city filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, stating that the Chicago Police Department “expended significant resources” looking into Smollett’s claims. Police say over two dozen officers and detectives took part in the weeks-long investigation, ultimately incurring 1,836 hours of overtime pay, worth $130,106 in total. The city will also seek attorneys’ fees and litigation costs, as well as a civil penalty of $1,000 for each of Smollett’s alleged lies.
Representatives for Smollett, who has been written out of the last two episodes of the current season of “Empire,” declined to comment on the city’s lawsuit.