In the latest plot twist in a story that gets more and more bizarre by the day, Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was taken into custody in Chicago on Wednesday night, has released a statement denying all charges and accusations facing him.
After a bond was set at $100,000, a friend posted the necessary $10,000 cash and Smollett was released from Cook County Jail about 3:45 p.m.
Following a press conference in which Cook County prosecutor Lisa Ranier laid out what law enforcement officials believe to be a timeline of events, Smollett, who attended the conference, but did not speak, got in an SUV and quickly left without giving a statement.
Jack Prior, Smollett’s attorney, however, did make the following statement: “These are outrageous allegations, but my client vehemently denies all this. He is not a threat to society, and is not a flight risk. He came back yesterday from out of state, knowing charges were imminent. He surrendered this morning at 5 a.m. and wants nothing more than to clear his name.” Prior went on to describe some of Smollett’s contributions to the community including charity work.
Smollett drew sharp criticism not just from fans and the press, but from Chicago law enforcement and court officials as well. Chicago Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. (who is black) and set the bond at $1,000,000, stated that “the most vile and despicable part of it, if it’s true, is the noose. That symbol conjures up such evil in this country’s history.”
Lyke, who denied the actor’s request to be released on his own recognizance, also said that if the state’s evidence it to be believed and true, “is totally outrageous.”
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson echoed Judge Lyke’s sentiments, angrily berating Smollett for wasting the department’s time and taking resources away from real victims, stating: ““I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention.”