Chicago police and City Hall slammed prosecutors and Jussie Smollett on Tuesday after all charges were dropped against the "Empire" actor.
“From top to bottom, this is not on the level,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “At the end of the day, it’s Mr. Smollett that committed this false claim.”
Chicago prosecutors Tuesday dropped all charges against Smollett just weeks after he was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
"This is a whitewash of justice," Emanuel said.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the department was blindsided by the decision of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to no longer press the case against Smollett for allegedly faking a hate-crime attack.
While Johnson and Emanuel said they were mad at prosecutors, their harshest words were aimed at Smollett.
"Is there no decency in this man?" Emanuel said.
Smollett had told police Jan. 29 that he was beaten up by two masked men while he was out getting food in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.
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The actor, who is black and gay, said his attackers hurled racist and homophobic slurs before punching him, putting a noose around his neck and pouring what he said was bleach on him.
Emanuel recalled his time in the Obama White House, where he worked as the chief of staff, and the efforts to pass the anti-hate crime Matthew Shepard Act, named in honor of a gay man beaten to death in Wyoming.
"You have a person using hate crime laws that are on the books to protect people who are minorities from violence, to then turn around and use those laws to advance your career and your financial reward?" according to the mayor.
Emanuel said he fears victims of hate crimes might face unfair treatment now after Smollett's case.
"Now, this cast a shadow of whether they are telling the truth and he did this all in the name of self-promotion," the mayor chided Smollett.
Emanuel also compared Smollett's matter to the ongoing college admissions scandal. He said the "Empire" actor is no different from the rich parents, who are accused of paying for special access for their children to elite universities.
“Where is the accountability in the system?" the mayor fumed. "You cannot have, because of a person’s position, one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules applying to everybody else.”
First Assistant State's Attorney Joe Magats, who took over the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx recused herself, told NBC Chicago Tuesday afternoon that “he is not exonerated.”
Magats also denied the resolution was a “whitewash of justice” as claimed by the mayor, and he said the outcome under diversion of prosecution is something available to other defendants.
“That’s completely false. This is not a whitewash of justice,” he said. “This is a disposition in a felony case that is available on felony cases of this level. It’s available to all defendants. It’s not something out of privilege; it’s not something out of clout.”
“He is not a victim of a hate crime,” Magats said, referring to Smollett. Magats also said that the focus of prosecutors in Chicago is violent crime.
“Some actor — and I get why people feel the way that they do — but doing what he did does not rise to that level,” Magats said. “This was the right disposition in this case,” he said.
Johnson noted "prosecutors have their discretion, of course. We still have to work with the State Attorney's Office. Again, at the end of the day, it's Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax. Period."
Emanuel accused Smollett of dragging Chicago's reputation through "the mud."
And at the very least, Chicago's top police officer said he wants an apology from Smollett.
"Do I think justice was served? No," Johnson said. "I think this city is still owed an apology."
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.