The Chicago Police Department announced March 26 they would drop all 16 charges against former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
Smollett was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself to further his acting career, but since the charges have been dropped, Smollett and his lawyers have stated he was always innocent and that the city of Chicago owes him an apology.
The amount of scrutiny that the Chicago Police Department received has fed into the notion there was a possible plan to cover up the actual events that occurred.
“The Chicago Police Department has earned a bad reputation of fumbling cases in the past,” said Iasia Peoples, a member of the Stonewall Tigers at the University of Memphis. “However, I feel that there is some culpability on both sides of the equation.”
Smollett was indicted Feb. 2 for disorderly conduct, which included allegedly filing a false police report and paying two Nigerian-American brothers Olabinjo and Osundairo to stage a fake hate crime assault on him.
Originally, Smollett told police he was attacked at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 near his Chicago apartment.
Smollett, who is openly gay, also informed authorities the two Osundairo brothers directed racist and homophobic slurs towards him before proceeding to physically harm him.
Smollett also reported the brothers allegedly poured an unknown chemical on him and tied him with a rope.
As more details were released, including the initial incident report, many became suspicious of Smollett’s story and questioned if he was seeking attention.
Smollett was interviewed by Robin Roberts, a “Good Morning America” news anchor, Feb. 14. During the interview, he defended the initial stories he told police and discussed the skeptics who doubted him.
Peoples, who is a Chicago native, said she does not think Smollett should have had to complete jail time and thinks he was targeted because of his sexual orientation.
“I have a problem with people doubting his story without hearing the facts of the matter and showing some level of objectivity in the situation,” Peoples said. “I feel that if Smollett was not gay, he would have received the benefit of the doubt that many people who are accused of the same types of crimes get.”
Since Smollett has been declared innocent by the Cook County prosecuting office, Peoples said she thinks he should be able to work again as an actor, but it may be a while for people to accept him again.
“I feel that fame and infamy are intertwined, and Smollett definitely can capitalize and get as much money off of this as possible,” Peoples said. “T-shirts, memes, whatever. He had best capitalize while the iron is hot.”