Chicago sues actor Jussie Smollett over costs of attack investigation

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is being sued by Chicago over its investigation into his alleged attack.
(Paul Beaty / Associated Press)

The city of Chicago has officially sued “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to reimburse the costs of its investigation into his alleged attack in January.

The city’s law department filed a civil complaint on Thursday in the Circuit Court of Cook County “that pursues the full measure of damages allowed under the false statements ordinance,” a spokesman said in a statement to The Times.

“This follows his refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019,” the statement said.


The action, obtained by The Times, requests the recovery of the roughly $130,000 that the investigation is said to have cost, as well as legal fees.

TIMELINE: How the Jussie Smollett case unfolded »

“[T]he City respectfully requests that the Court: A. Find that the City incurred necessary costs investigating and responding to Defendant’s [Smollett’s] statements made in violation of the MCC [Municipal Code of Chicago]; B. Order Defendant to pay the City’s response costs in an amount to be proven at trial; C. Order Defendant to pay the City a penalty in amount equal to the City’s litigation and collection costs and attorney’s fees; and D. Award such further relief as this Court deems just and equitable,” the document said.

It’s the latest development in the ongoing case against the actor, who in January reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Chicago police later claimed that the attack was a hoax and that Smollett orchestrated it to advance his career. Those allegations eventually led to a 16-count indictment, which was dropped last month and parts of the case were sealed.

Smollett’s attorneys did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Last week, when the city threatened the lawsuit to recover the cost of its investigation, Smollett’s defense attorney, Mark Geragos, said that Smollett “will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”

If the city proceeded with litigation, he said, he would demand access to the city’s entire investigation file, including information that hadn’t been previously disclosed to his team, along with depositions from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie T. Johnson, among others.


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