Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett has filed a federal counterclaim against the city of Chicago, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and several others claiming he owes the city no more money and was maliciously prosecuted for the alleged hoax attack police say he orchestrated on himself.
The actor’s accusations come in a 49-page response to a previous federal lawsuit filed against him by the city seeking $130,000 in reimbursement to cover the overtime costs the Chicago Police Department spent investigating Smollett’s claims.
But Smollett’s attorneys claim the city is not entitled to any further payment because their client forfeited his $10,000 bond after the criminal charges filed against him were dismissed.
“Having agreed to accept $10,000 from Mr. Smollett as payment in full in connection with the dismissal of the charges against him, the City cannot seek additional recovery from Mr. Smollett under the doctrine of accord and satisfaction,” Smollett’s attorney William Quinlan wrote in the counterclaim filed Tuesday.
Smollett also claims police investigators “disregarded or ignored” key evidence while relying on “self-serving and unreliable” statements from brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo in crafting the criminal charges against him.
On top of the city and Johnson, the counterclaim also named CPD Detective Michael Theis, Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki, 10 John and Jane Doe defendants as well as the Osundairos.
In March, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report after claiming to police he’d been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his apartment in Streeterville.
Chicago police detectives spent weeks investigating those claims, but eventually determined Smollett had paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to carry out the “attack” on him in an effort to boost his public profile.
The brothers testified before a grand jury days before Smollett was arrested.
Smollett has maintained his innocence. He now claims Johnson and Wodnicki “knowingly made false statements” to prosecutors and the public and “covered up” exculpatory evidence, resulting in the allegedly malicious prosecution.
“In the face of mounting public pressure to solve the high-profile attack on Mr. Smollett,” Quinlan wrote, “Counterclaim-Defendant Johnson authorized the CPD, including Counterclaim-Defendants Wodnicki, Theis, and John and Jane Doe Defendants, to file a criminal complaint against Mr. Smollett on the basis of false and unreliable evidence from the Osundairo Brothers.”
The counterclaim criticizes police department leaks of “false and misleading” information to media during its investigation, claiming this turned the public against Smollett.
Quinlan in his response attempts to pick apart the city’s narrative as contained in its initial complaint filed in April. He admits Smollett had been in contact with the Osundairo brothers in the days before the incident, but claims they never discussed any hoax attack.
For instance, Smollett texted Abimbola Osundairo saying he “might need your help on the low,” a statement investigators believed was related to the attack. Quinlan instead claims his client was interested in “obtaining herbal steroids,” which he believed the brothers could procure for him during an upcoming trip to Nigeria.
He denies that Smollett drove the brothers to the site of the attack days in advance for a run through and claimed the $3,500 check Smollett gave the brothers was for a five-week personal training program.
Quinlan also claims that as a result of this case, Smollett “suffered and continues to suffer substantial economic damages as well as reputational harm, humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress.”