The Chicago Police Department began to swiftly release records in the arrest of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett shortly after prosecutors' controversial decision to dismiss all charges against the actor, but a judge quickly issued an order preventing the release of further records Wednesday afternoon.
“Earlier today, CPD began responding to document requests in reference to the closed case of Mr. Smollett,” Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi wrote on Twitter. “We were then advised of a court order prohibiting such release & this afternoon, we received the formal directive which stipulates that no further records can be released.”
Cook County prosecutors dismissed 16 counts against the actor earlier this week, after saying they had cut a deal with Smollett that required him to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city and perform community service rather than pursue the charges.
But while the records were quickly sealed by a judge, some details have already started to emerge about the police investigation.
Chicago police paid for a six-night hotel stay and 24-hour security for brothers Abimbola Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo after the brothers told police Smollett had paid them to stage the January attack against the actor, according to the Associated Press.
The rooms were secured as part of an effort to avoid the media. Detectives met with the brothers at the hotel, and officers brought them food and helped transport them to court, using a back entrance to avoid media, the records showed.
The report also provided additional details about the search warrant police obtained for Smollett’s iCloud account and the $3,500 check the actor wrote to the pair. While Smollett has maintained the check was written for personal training and nutrition services, Chicago Police contended the check was written as payment for the staged attack.
Smollett told police he had been attacked by two masked men around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He told authorities the men shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, poured bleach on him and strung a noose around his neck.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who recused herself from to the prosecution earlier in the case after she had exchanged emails with one of Smollett’s relatives, told The Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday that prosecutors had enough evidence to earn a conviction had the case gone to trial.
“The notion that this somehow exonerates him or that the prosecutors somehow believed he was innocent is very frustrating to [my] idea of alternative prosecution,” she said.
She claimed the deal struck with the star, which essentially wipes his record, is similar to other agreements reached with similar low-level felony defendants.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said police were unaware the deal was being made and told the media that he continues to stand by the “facts of what we produced” during the investigation.
“At the end of the day it’s Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period,” he said according to Chicago station WMAQ-TV. “If he wanted to clear his name the way to do that was in a court of law so that everyone could see the evidence.”
But while prosecutors and Chicago police still maintain they stand behind their investigation and its conclusion, Smollett has continued to maintain his innocence.
His attorney Tina Glandian said on “Good Morning America” that they were ready to fight the charges but the prosecution made the decision not to pursue the matter.
“If they believed the charges, they never would have dismissed the case,” she said, adding that Smollett “just wants his life back.”
The controversy has even reached the highest levels of government, with President Donald Trump writing on Twitter that the FBI and Department of Justice will review the case calling it an “embarrassment to our Nation!”
The Chicago Police Department previously said they had turned over a portion of their investigation - specifically on whether Smollett sent himself a threatening letter the week before the attack - to the FBI.
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