Lawyers defending Jussie Smollett against a city lawsuit have made a sweeping request for records from an internal investigation into former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson launched after Johnson last year was found asleep at the wheel of a parked vehicle.
City attorneys this week filed a motion seeking to block a subpoena from Smollett’s lawyers to City Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s office asking for “any and all documents or communications relating in any way to your investigation(s) regarding ... Johnson’s conduct” as well as records of the cost of Ferguson’s probe.
The filing was one of the latest in a lawsuit filed against the former “Empire” star seeking to recover approximately $160,000 paid out in overtime during the course of a three-week investigation that began after Smollett reported he’d been attacked near his Streeterville home.
Police later determined Smollett had paid two associates to stage the attack, and Smollett was charged with filing a false police report, with Johnson angrily condemning the actor for besmirching the reputation of the city by filing a false report.
Those charges were abruptly dismissed by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office — prompting public outcry that has led to still-ongoing investigations by both the county Inspector General and a court-appointed Special Prosecutor. Johnson was fired last month by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said the superintendent misled her in his account of an Oct. 17 incident in which he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car, following a night of heavy drinking with other officers.
The subpoena zeroes in on areas of Ferguson’s investigation into whether Johnson was “untruthful or misleading in any statement, including his statements to the public” as well as to city officials or Ferguson and his staff. The subpoena, attached as an exhibit to the city’s motion, also seeks records that indicate whether Johnson tampered with evidence related to Ferguson’s investigation into the superintendent.
City attorneys have sought to block or delay turning over the records, claiming that Smollett’s lawyers should not have directly subpoenaed the files from Ferguson’s office since the Inspector General’s office is a division of city government and the city is a party to the lawsuit. Smollett’s lawyers had insisted on getting the records by Jan. 31 and had discussed with city attorneys getting the records by early February.
Special Prosecutor Daniel Webb has been tasked with reviewing Smollett’s case and the decision to drop the charges by prosecutors and could potentially re-charge the actor.
Smollett’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Chicago Sun-Times.