United States

Smollett Files Countersuit Against Chicago, Asks for Jury Trial

The claim is in response to a lawsuit from the city seeking for Smollett to pay for the costs of the police investigation into his alleged attack

Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has filed a countersuit against the city of Chicago and wants a jury trial to decide his case.

Smollett, who Chicago officials alleged faked a racist and homophobic attack on himself, filed his counterclaim Tuesday, naming the city, high-ranking members of the Chicago Police Department, Jane Does and the two brothers accused of helping him stage the attack. 

The claim is in response to a lawsuit from the city seeking for Smollett to pay for the costs of the police investigation into his alleged attack.

It alleges Smollett was charged without probable cause and "maliciously" prosecuted "in bad faith." It also claims that because Smollett agreed to pay $10,000 in connection with the dismissal of charges against him "the city cannot seek additional recovery." 

Smollett's lawyers previously tried to have the city's suit tossed, arguing that the actor should not have to pay Chicago $130,000 because he couldn't have known how much time and money the department would spend looking into his allegations. A judge denied that motion last month.  

"Mr. Smollett has always maintained his innocence and is eager to have the complete facts of the case come out. He looks forward to taking depositions and otherwise bringing to light many of the facts that have been overlooked in the court of public opinion to date," his attorney William J. Quinlan said in a previous statement. "Mr. Smollett is confident that once the full story is available he will be vindicated."

Lawyers previously claimed Smollett did not stage the attack as the Chicago Police Department alleges, but they also suggest that it wasn't necessary to spend 1,836 hours of police overtime and "untold hours of non-overtime police work" on the investigation after Smollett reported that he was a victim of an attack in downtown Chicago in January. 

The police department has said it only did what was necessary and that it conducted a potential hate crime investigation because Smollett alleged that two masked men hurled racist and homophobic insults at him, beat him and looped a noose around his neck. 

The lawsuits are part of a larger legal battle over the alleged attack that includes: criminal charges against the actor by prosecutors who alleged he staged the attack to further his career; a stunning decision by the Cook County State's Attorney's office in March to dismiss those charges; and a judge's appointment last month of a special prosecutor to investigate that decision. 

In previous filings, Smollett's attorneys contend that the only reason the city filed suit to recoup the cost of the investigation was because former Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagreed with the decision of the state's attorney's office to dismiss the charges against Smollett. 

Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson have made no secret about their anger that the charges were dropped, and after Smollett refused the city's demand for $130,000 the city sued in April for that money. 

The police department maintains that there is overwhelming evidence that the actor staged the attack and paid his two "attackers" to carry it out. And the recent appointment of a special prosecutor to examine how State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office handled the case raised the possibility of the charges against Smollett being reinstated or of new charges being brought. 

"This is just another sad attempt by Jussie Smollett to try and falsely smear the Osundario brothers, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. There is no legal merit to his claims, and could be sanctionable," Gloria Schmidt, who represents the Osundairo brothers accused of helping Smollett. "The Chicago brothers were open and honest with the Chicago Police Department, testified under oath in front of a Grand Jury, and stand ready to do so again, in open court, if and when called upon to do so."  

Smollett's countersuit seeks to have the bill from the city to Smollett removed in addition to Smollett receiving unspecified "compensatory and punitive damages" and "other relief the Court deems just and proper." 

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