Jussie Smollett made a rare public statement this week about the new charges stemming from his alleged Chicago hate crime hoax.
“I am innocent,” Smollett told a TMZ photographer this week at Los Angeles International Airport.
Accompanied by his attorney Tina Glandian, the former Empire actor said the situation is “definitely frustrating. It’s fight or die at this point.”
When asked about his double jeopardy defense and claims of his innocence, Smollett quickly shot back, “I don’t claim to be innocent. I am innocent.”
“The truth is the best defense. The truth, which they know nothing about,” he added.
Related Story: Jussie Smollett’s Lawyer Says New Charges About ‘Politics Not Justice’
Smollett’s legal team is arguing that because the initial 16 counts against him were dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in March, he shouldn’t be charged with six new counts by the special prosecutor.
The actor’s legal woes began shortly after he reported on Jan. 29, 2019 that he was a victim of a hate crime attack. Smollett claimed two masked men put a noose around his neck and doused him with a chemical, while calling him racial and homophobic slurs.
The investigation took a rather quick turn, with Chicago police alleging Smollett staged the attack. The actor and singer was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. In a surprise move, the charges against him were dropped by the Cook County State Attorney’s office led by Kim Foxx.
Former U.S. attorney Dan Webb was then appointed as special prosecutor to look into the initial investigation. After Webb’s investigation concluded, Smollett was charged with six new counts of making false reports to the Chicago Police Department. He was released on $20,000 bond after pleading not guilty Monday, and ordered back to court on March 18 by the judge.
Smollett’s lawyer told TMZ this week, “We have faith that the system will eventually work.”
The actor’s legal team is arguing that the case should be dismissed on grounds that refiling charges violates protections against a person being charged twice for the same crime, otherwise known as double jeopardy.
Additionally, Smollett was sued in a civil case by the city of Chicago for $130,000 to recoup costs of the police investigation and legal fees. Smollett has filed a counter suit against Chicago, stating that he was “maliciously” prosecuted and has suffered “humiliation” and “emotional distress” over ordeal.
Watch the video here.