Jussie Smollett's booking photo released after drama unfolds at sentencing hearing

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Jussie Smollett appears somber in a booking photo released by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office after the “Empire” actor was sentenced on Thursday for staging a hate crime against himself. 

Smollett was sentenced by Cook County Judge James Linn to 30 months of felony probation and 150 days in the county jail. Linn ordered Smollett to be immediately placed in custody.

The photo showing a subdued Smollett in a white button-down shirt capped a dramatic day in the courtroom. The actor declared he was “innocent” as he was taken out by sheriff’s deputies.

“I am innocent. I could have said I was guilty a long time ago,” Smollett yelled following his sentencing for lying about the 2019 racist and homophobic attack, which he orchestrated himself. 

This booking photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office shows Jussie Smollett. A judge sentenced Jussie Smollett to 150 days in jail Thursday, March 10, 2022, branding the Black and gay actor a charlatan for staging a hate crime against himself while the nation struggled with wrenching issues of racial injustice.
(Cook County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“I’m not suicidal!” Smollett also screamed as he was taken into custody.

As most of the Smollett family were seen walking out of the courtroom after the sentencing, one of his sisters said, “Stop laughing at our Black men!”

The former “Empire” actor was sentenced after his attorneys read aloud letters from Progressive groups that asked for mercy for Smollett. Those pushing for leniency in the case included an organizer with Black Lives Matter, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, as well as LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson.

Another emotional moment took place when Smollett’s grandmother asked the judge not to send him to prison.

“If you do, send me along with him,” she said.

Prior to his sentencing, Smollett declined to take the stand. “No your honor I don’t want to say anything. Thank you,” he said.

Smollett appears with his attorneys at his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Chicago.
((Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool))

Several supporters spoke about worries that Smollett would be at risk in prison, specifically mentioning his race, sexual orientation and his family’s Jewish heritage.

Linn said he did consider those requests for mercy, along with Smollett’s prior work for and financial support of social justice organizations. But Linn also excoriated Smollett as a narcissist and pronounced himself astounded by his actions given the actor’s multiracial family background and ties to social justice work.

“The damage you’ve done to yourself is way beyond anything else than can happen to you from me,” Linn said. “You are now a permanently convicted felon.”

Judge James Linn speaks during a sentencing hearing for actor Jussie Smollett at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Chicago.
(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)via AP, Pool)

Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche said he will ask the jail to keep Smollett in protective custody and plans to appeal both the verdict and the judge’s sentence.

Uche said he didn’t expect Linn to include jail time but Smollett did.

“He said: ‘Because I’m a Black guy, no matter how successful I’ve gotten, I’m Black,’” Uche told reporters after the hearing.

A spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Smollett will have a comprehensive medical, mental health and security assessment, a routine process.

Smollett was convicted in December of staging the hate crime and lying to cops. He was found guilty on five out of six charges at his hate crime hoax trial and faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each of his five felony conviction counts.

Prior to his sentencing, special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Linn to include “an appropriate amount of prison time.”

Webb also asked that Smollett be ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago. Smollett was ultimately ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution.

Smollett was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct related to false statements to Chicago police officers about a 2019 hate crime against him. In 2019, he claimed that two men attacked him due to his skin color and sexual orientation.

“I do believe at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial,” Linn said Thursday. 

Fox News’ Matt Finn, Madelin Fuerste, David Aaro, Julius Young and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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