CHICAGO — Starting Monday, a Cook County jury will be selected and tasked with determining whether former “Empire” actress Jussie Smollett committed a hate crime in Streeterville nearly three years ago.
The case captured the city when it was first brought to public view. Smollett, the black and gay actor on the Fox series “Empire,” told Chicago police that he was attacked by two masked men in the middle of a frigid night after he left a Subway restaurant.
Smollett said his attackers used homophobic and racist slurs while putting a noose around his neck, with one of the attackers telling him, “This is MAGA country,” referring to former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
Smollett himself became a suspect soon after, and was charged with making a false report. Cook County’s state attorney, Kim Fox, said she had “disqualified” herself from the case “to address issues of impartiality.” Soon after he was charged, the producers of “Empire” said Smollett’s character would be writing from the show.
However, the charges against Smollett were quickly dropped with little explanation in March 2019. The city subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against Smollett, in an effort to recover money spent investigating the initial Smollett attack allegation.
Ultimately, Cook County Judge Michael Tomin appointed Dan Webb — the former US attorney for the Northern District of Illinois — as a special prosecutor tasked with determining whether there was an error by the state attorney general’s office in dropping the charges, and determining whether he should face Smollett criminally. shipment.
A grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Smollett in February 2020.