A judge appointed a special prosecutor Friday (Aug. 23) to look into why the Chicago state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the case against Jussie Smollett, leaving open the possibility that the former Empire actor could yet face charges in what police say was a phony attack on himself that he staged to get attention.
Smollett, who is black and gay, maintains that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January. But if the special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, determines that the charges shouldn’t have been dropped, he could recommend that they be reinstated or that new charges be brought.
Webb, who was appointed by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin during a Friday hearing, told reporters afterward that he would move the investigation along as quickly as possible. Such probes typically include impaneling a special grand jury, issuing subpoenas, taking witness statements and a final report.
“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.”
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack and lying about it to investigators. However, it dropped the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.