Jussie Smollett’s legal team is not going down without a fight.
Attorneys for the actor, who was arrested for allegedly fabricating a hate crime against himself in Chicago last month, are slamming the case as a “spectacle” and have refused to retract their client’s assertion that he is truly the victim, the Washington Examiner reported.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” the legal team said in a statement.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” the statement said.
NEW: Jussie Smollett’s legal team cites Chicago’s mayoral election as a reason their client is wrongfully accused: “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election.”
— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasABC7) February 22, 2019
The 36-year-old actor was arrested Thursday for disorderly conduct and for filing a false police report in last month’s alleged assault in which he claimed two men had attacked him, poured a chemical on him and put a rope around his neck, while yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett and his attorneys have denied all the allegations against him. A judge granted $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond, at his court appearance.
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 22, 2019
His attorneys’ defiant comments appeared to be a rebuke of Chicago law enforcement after Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson leveled a blistering statement about Smollett in a press conference after his arrest.
“’Empire’ actor Jussie took advantage of the pain and racism to promote his own career. I am left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” Johnson said.
The remarks by Smollett’s attorneys also alluded to the heated Chicago mayoralty race which they claimed is smearing the actor’s “impeccable character” to score political points in the campaign set to replace outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Rahm Emanuel weighs in on the Jussie Smollett case. pic.twitter.com/w9fku2bnHx
— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) February 21, 2019
“All across Chicago, in every neighborhood, there are signs in front yards and windows that read, ‘Hate Has No Home Here.’ It is a sign that expresses our shared values and defines our great city,” Emanuel said in a statement following the police press conference. “Our laws exist to reflect and defend those values, and hate crimes will never be tolerated.”
“A single individual who put their perceived self-interest ahead of these shared principles will never trump Chicago’s collective spirit,” he added.
Meanwhile, Smollett’s “Empire” role has been suspended according to the show’s executives.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” the show’s co-creators, Lee Daniels and Brett Mahoney and executive producers Danny Strong, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer, told Fox News.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season,” the statement said.