By Jason Meisner
CHICAGO — A federal judge gave the go-ahead Tuesday to the city of Chicago’s lawsuit against Jussie Smollett that seeks reimbursement from the former “Empire” actor for police overtime in the investigation of his alleged hoax attack in January.
In denying Smollett’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said that “it isn’t unreasonable to think” Chicago police would have vigorously investigated Smollett’s bombshell report that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack, particularly given his celebrity and the “volatile climate” of the times.
Lawyers for Smollett argued in their motion that the actor could never have foreseen that Chicago police would investigate his claims so thoroughly — and therefore he shouldn’t be stuck with the $130,000 overtime bill.
In their 12-page motion, Smollett’s attorneys said police investigations are a “discretionary function” of law enforcement and that there was no proof the damages allegedly incurred by the city were directly related to Smollett’s report — later determined by police to be a hoax.
“The filing of a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation, nor does it, as a practical matter, usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one CPD chose to undertake in this case,” Smollett attorney William Quinlan wrote.
Quinlan said Smollett’s report merely enabled “police and prosecutors to decide whether and how to investigate.”
Kendall’s ruling sets the case on a path toward trial. A more detailed written opinion was expected to be made public later Tuesday.
The city’s lawsuit is one of many legal fronts in Smollett’s case, which has made international news ever since Smollett claimed he was the victim of a brutal attack near his home in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on Jan. 29. Smollett was eventually charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police. However, weeks later, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office abruptly dismissed the 16-count indictment with little public explanation.
Meanwhile, powerhouse attorney Dan Webb was appointed in August as a special prosecutor to look into the controversial handling of the case and whether any further criminal charges were warranted.
A separate investigation by the Cook County inspector general is also still underway.
©2019 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.