Morocco Omari, the Chicago-born actor who appeared on the hit show “Empire,” was acquitted Friday of misdemeanor domestic battery.
During the two-day jury trial at the Domestic Violence Courthouse, the actor took the stand — as did a 25-year-old North Carolina woman who claimed Omari assaulted her in the hallway of his Hyde Park apartment last year, then dropped her off on a South Side street corner after arguing with her again on the way to O’Hare Airport.
“It’s like an albatross lifted from my neck,” Omari said Friday after the verdict at the courthouse. “I’ve been honest, I was truthful and I told my side of the story.”
The Sun-Times was unable to contact the woman after the trial, at 555 W. Harrison.
Weeks before his arrest, Omari had just finished what looked like a star-making run on “Empire,” as FBI agent Tariq Cousins, the law-biding half-brother and nemesis of series star Terrence Howard’s character, Lucious Lyon.
Coincidentally, Omari had wrapped filming of what was scripted to be his final appearances on “Empire,” with his character killed off in a season-ending plot twist.
But the episodes didn’t air until months after the 2017 arrest, making it look like Omari had been written off the show.
Omari, who remained free on bond, has lost several roles when producers Googled his names and saw the headlines.
“I’ve gotten inside information that casting directors, they liked my work, (but) that’s the first thing that comes up is that I am a woman-beater,” said Omari. “It has put a bad mark on my name. I mean, I’ve never been in trouble, never been arrested.”
The woman had claimed Omari had gotten violent with her after she insulted him in his apartment, just 24 hours or so into her first visit to Chicago, and only the second time she and Omari had met.
Omari testified that she was the one who became upset, when he tried to put the brakes on their budding relationship and lectured the younger woman about insulting him with foul language.
He opted to take the woman – who worked for an airline and could fly stand-by at any time – to O’Hare to catch a flight back to North Carolina. They argued again as he drove her to O’Hare, so he said he stopped on the corner of 47th and South Lake Park Avenue in Kenwood, and pulled her luggage out of the car.
After a series of text messages, Omari said he sent the woman a link to a car-sharing app.
She went a few blocks to a school and said Omari had hit her and thrown her out of her car, according to court testimony.
Omari’s lawyer, April Preyar pointed out she passed numerous stores at the bustling intersection, and never called police from her phone
“I felt like I did the necessary things to try to get this woman back to the airport. I’ve never had to call the police on someone,” Omari told the Sun-Times. “I could never beat up a woman. People know that’s not who I am.”