CHICAGO (AFP) – Jussie Smollett was released from prison Wednesday after six nights behind bars after an appeals court agreed with his attorney that he should be released pending an appeal of his conviction of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.
The former “Empire” actor has left Cook County Jail surrounded by security after spending six nights behind bars. He did not comment as he rode into a waiting SUV.
The appeals court ruling came after a Cook County judge ruled against Smollett Last week he would immediately begin serving 150 days in prison for being convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct offenses for lying to the police. In the outburst immediately after the verdict, Smollett proclaimed his innocence and said, “I’m not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go there, I don’t do it myself. And you all should know it.”
The appeals court said Smollett could be released after making a personal pledge of $150,000, which means he does not have to pay cash but agrees to appear in court as required.
Speaking to reporters outside the prison after Smollett’s departure, Smollett’s defense attorney, Nene O’Shea, said the Smollett family was “extremely pleased with today’s developments.” O’Shea said that during his time in prison, Smollett did not eat and only drank water, although he did not say why.
He criticized the special counsel’s decision to indict Smollett again after Cook County District Attorney Kim Fox dropped the initial charges and paid a fine.
“Let me make one thing clear: There is no room for politics in our court system and the courts of appeals in this great country do not play politics,” O’Shea said.
Smollett’s attorneys argued that he would have completed his sentence by the time his appeals process was completed and that Smollett might be at risk of physical harm if he remained in custody in the Cook County Jail.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office called the allegation that Smollett’s health and safety were at risk “factually incorrect,” in response to his request, noting that Smollett was being held in protective custody. in prison.
The court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett, who is black and gay, told Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The hunt for the attackers soon turned into an investigation and arrest of Smollett himself, accused of having orchestrated the attack and lied to the police about it.
The investigation revealed that Smollett had pushed two men he knew from working on the TV show “Empire” to launch the attack.
A jury convicted Smollett in December of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge brought when someone lies to the police. He was acquitted of the sixth count. Judge James Lane sentenced Smollett last week to 150 days in prison — with good behaviour, he could have been released in as little as 75 days.
Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During the sentencing he shouted at the judge that he was innocent, warning the judge that he had no suicidal tendencies, and that if he died in custody, someone else, not him, would have ended his life.
Uchi said the first thing Josie did when he heard the news was put his hands on the glass between them and said he had almost given up hope in the constitutional order of the United States. “I think he almost gave up,” Uchi said.
He said the next step would be to appeal the ruling.
Check out AP’s full coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.