Chicago — The City of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against actor Jussie Smollett, Empire actor. The city is seeking reimbursement for more than $130,000 for police overtime. Police spent 1,836 in overtime so officers could investigate his assault report of a hate crime.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s (D) administration filed the lawsuit Thursday 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 two-week investigation. 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. The city’s law department said it’s pursuing “the full measure of damages” allowed by law.
The 12-page lawsuit details how city officials believe Smollett worked with the Nigerian Osundairo to stage the assault.
“[Smollett] knowingly made numerous false statements of material facts to CPD officers, including when he made a police report alleging that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, when he knew he had staged the attack with the assistance of the Osundairo brothers,” the lawsuit states.
“When presented with evidence that his statements were false, defendant again refused to inform CPD officers that he knew the [two men] were his attackers and that he had orchestrated his staged attack with them.” the lawsuit continues. Smollet also mislead police by stating attackers were white.
Authorities say that Smollett staged an assault he said was racially and homophobically motivated. The motive, they said, was to gain exposure and sympathy he believed would further his acting career. Smollett has repeatedly rejected the police theory.
Smollett, 36, has been accused of being the mastermind of the Jan. 29 assault. He continues to deny the accusation. He claims two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs while beating him. He stated they poured what was thought to be bleach on him. The men wrapped a noose style rope around his neck, Smollett stated. Their last offense, leaving him with the fear they stopped short of killing him. Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts in early March for allegedly lying to police about the incident — one count per lie — but, on March 26, Cook County prosecutors dropped all criminal charges, citing his two days of community service and agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the city.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel 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, the municipal code states that he could potentially be fined up to three times the amount. Smollett refused to pay. He maintains his innocence.