*An Illinois judge has appointed a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors dropped charges against Jussie Smollett, who is accused of orchestrating a racist, homophobic hate crime against himself.
Smollett, who is openly gay and best known for his role on the Fox Television music drama “Empire,” told police on Jan. 29 that two masked men threw a noose around his neck and poured chemicals on him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
After a lengthy investigation, police determined the actor/singer staged the entire attack, and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. However, all the charges were abruptly dropped a month later with little explanation, angering police and city officials.
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Now, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin has appointed Chicago’s most high-profile defense attorney, Dan Webb, to investigate and determine why the charges were dropped — and it could bring new charges against Smollett.
“I don’t know where this case is going. The facts will take me where I they take me,” Webb told reporters after a hearing on Friday.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx issued a statement pledging “full cooperation” with the special prosecutor, saying her office is committed to “transparency.”
“I intend to expedite everything. But the facts will take me where they take me,” Webb said. “I’m going to start fresh and see where it goes.”
Webb said at the news conference after the hearing that he believes the judge assigned him to complete three main tasks.
“First, to investigate if any persons or offices involved in the Smollett case engaged in any wrongdoing,” Webb said.
“Number two, determine if reasonable grounds do exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett,” he continued. “And number three, to submit a written report to the court of our findings and conclusions at the end of the special prosecutor’s investigation.”