Chicago police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the state's attorney's decision to drop all the charges against the Empire star, who was accused of lying to police about a reported hate crime.
"This is a whitewash of justice," an angry Emanuel told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, calling the decision to drop charges "politically motivated."
"From top to bottom, this is not on the level," he said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who previously had harsh words about Smollett during the investigation, said he stood by his department's work and believed the charges against Smollett were justified.
"So listen, I'm sure we all know what occurred this morning," Johnson said. "My personal opinion is that you all know where I stand in this. Do I think justice was served? No. I think this city is still owed an apology."
"If someone accused me of doing anything that would circumvent that, then I would want my day in court. Period. I've heard that they [Smollett's legal team] wanted their day in court with TV cameras so America could know the truth," Johnson continued. "But no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system. My job as a police officer is to investigate an incident, gather evidence, gather the facts and present them to the State's Attorney. That's what we did. I stand behind the detective's investigation."
As far as the 10 percent of his $100,000 bond that Smollett was ordered to pay, the mayor said, "$10,000 doesn't even come close to what the city spent in resources. And he did this all in the name of self-promotion."
He continued, criticizing Smollett for using "laws and principles and values" behind hate crime legislation "to self-promote your career."
He added that it was a cost to all individuals, "gay men and women who will come forward and one day will say they were a victim of a hate crime and now will be doubted; people of faith, Muslim or any other faith, who will be a victim of hate crime; people of all walks of life, background, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, now this casts a shadow of whether they're telling the truth."
Area Central Detective Cmdr. Edward Wodnicki, whose detectives led the investigation, said prosecutors gave no heads up to police that charges would be dropped. He also lamented that it appeared that police mishandled the investigation, saying instead that detectives uncovered "overwhelming" evidence against Smollett.
"It's absolutely a punch in the gut," he told the Chicago Tribune. "We worked very, very closely throughout our three-week investigation to get to the point where we arrested the offender. So for the state's attorney's office at this point to dismiss the charges ... without discussing this with us at all is just shocking."
Smollett spoke at the courthouse on Tuesday, thanking his attorneys, family, friends and the city of Chicago for supporting him through "an incredibly difficult time for me." He also thanked "the state of Illinois" for "attempting to do what's right."
"I have been truthful and consistent from day one," Smollett, his hands shaking as he read from notes, told reporters.
Smollett's attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, said the defense reached no deal with prosecutors, as had been previously reported by TMZ. Smollett agreed to forfeit his bond "so he could go on with his life and get this over with," she said.
It's unclear why Smollett had to post bond; ordinarily, that money would be returned to him or his attorneys.
Smollett's family celebrated the turn of events in a joint statement made to The Wrap.
"Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared. Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of. He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared)," Smollett's family said in the statement.0comments
It continued, "The painful incidents we've witnessed him endure over the past 7 weeks have been heartbreaking and unjust to say the least. While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. We thank God and our village for standing by us during this trying time."
Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Stringer / Getty