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Jussie Smollett's Defense Files Emergency Motion To Get Him Out Of Jail
A judge will also have to weigh in potential risks of COVID-19 to the actor's compromised immunity when deciding whether or not Jussie Smollett can be released from the county jail.
Amid growing concerns for former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and the risk posed to his mental health, attorneys have filed an emergency motion to get their client out of jail.
Prosecutors have five days to respond to the emergency injunction, which the defense filed with the First District Appellate Court on Friday, just one day after Smollett’s sentencing hearing, according to NBC Chicago. With an appeal already underway, attorneys claim Smollett’s being behind bars could produce “extraordinary damage” to his mental health, according to the filing obtained by Fox News.
On Sunday, Smollett’s brother, Jocqui Smollett, took to Jussie’s Instagram page to announce his brother was unfairly labeled at risk for self-harm before being moved to a psychiatric ward within the county jail. The reported transfer came shortly after Jussie was sentenced to 150 days behind bars for orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack against himself in 2019.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing was open to the public, unlike the trial, where spectators could hear Smollett speak in court for the first time, as shown in a video published by NBC Chicago. When asked by the judge if he had any questions about his sentence, which included 30 months felony probation and a $120,106 fine to the city of Chicago, Smollett replied, “I am not suicidal.”
Smollett repeated the phrase several times, raising his voice each time. He reiterated that he respected the judge’s decision but maintained his innocence. Smollett told the court should anything happen to him while behind bars, it would not be on due to self-harm.
Smollett continued to yell that he wasn’t suicidal when escorted out of the courtroom. He was placed in protective custody upon his return to the county jail, said authorities.
“Mr. Smollett anticipates he will most likely be assigned to segregated incarceration or protective custody, both euphemisms for solitary confinement; a situation which could have extraordinary damage on his mental health,” the motion continued. “As a result, any custodial setting poses a safety and health danger to the life of Mr. Smollett.”
Contributing to the appeal was a doctor’s sworn affidavit attesting that Smollett was medically at risk, according to Fox News.
“I have been asked to provide an analysis regarding whether incarcerating Mr. Jussie Smollett in an Illinois jail or prison poses a potentially deadly risk to his health from an epidemiological and medial perspective,” wrote Dr. Michael D. Freeman. Citing statistics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Freeman said Smollett’s placement behind bars “substantially increased” risks to his health.
“Incarceration in a jail or prison setting poses a heightened danger to Mr. Smollett’s health when taking his current health status, including compromised immunity, into account.”
Also to be considered are threatening and harassing calls to Smollett’s relatives and supporters, as reported by TMZ. Someone from Smollett’s camp shared a disturbing phone call from an unknown number detailing violent incidents that would befall Smollett while serving his sentence.
In 2019, Smollett was accused of enlisting two brothers to put a noose around his neck while shouting homophobic and racist slurs in view of surveillance cameras. Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, was found guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct. He has maintained his innocence and continues to garner support from the Hollywood community, including “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson and Samuel L. Jackson.
On Tuesday, Jocqui Smollett returned to Jussie’s Instagram page to say his brother had been successfully taken away from the psychiatric ward and “moved to a new jail cell.” He thanked supporters of the #FreeJussie movement and continued to maintain his brother’s innocence.