After being indicted on six new charges in connection with an alleged staged attack last year, former Empire actor Jussie Smollett's legal team is speaking out. Just hours after a grand jury returned the indictment Tuesday, Smollett's attorney, Tina Glandian, cast doubt on the "integrity of the investigation" in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.
"This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett's pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution," the statement reads. "One of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him."
"After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett," it continues. "Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State's Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice."
Smollett had first been indicted in March of 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct in connection to an alleged racist and homophobic attack on the streets of Chicago on Jan. 29, 2019. The case quickly began to unravel, with police and prosecutors soon claiming that it was a hoax.
Smollett, who has always denied any wrongdoing, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were later dropped.
On Tuesday, however, special prosecutor Dan Webb confirmed that a Cook County grand jury had returned a six-count indictment of disorderly conduct. The indictment charges the actor with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime."
Webb's statement added that "further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is "'in the interest of justice.'"
"We look forward to reviewing the indictment and, as we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett's false statements," Kathy Fieweger, director of public affairs for the City of Chicago Department of Law, told Entertainment Tonight in a statement. "We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on this case the original investigation."
Smollett, who has not directly responded to the new charges, is due in court on Monday, Feb. 24.