Prosecutor who dropped charges against Jussie Smollett believes he's guilty

An Illinois prosecutor said he believes Jussie Smollett is guilty of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself despite his decision to drop the charges against the “Empire” actor on Tuesday.

“I do not believe he is innocent,” First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told CBS News on Tuesday afternoon after Smollett’s legal team announced Magats’ office had dismissed the charges.

Asked if he believes Smollett is guilty, Magats said “yes.” He confirmed that dropping the charges, which included 16 felony counts of staging the January attack and lying to officials, neither “vindicates” nor “exonerates” Smollett.

“Our priority is violent crimes and the drivers of violence. Jussie Smollett is neither one of those,” Magats told CBS News when asked why his office would abandon the case if he felt the actor was guilty.

The Cook County State Attorney’s Office unexpectedly dropped all the charges against Smollett on Tuesday, setting social media ablaze and prompting angry responses from Chicago officials.

Though Magats and the Chicago Police Department say Smollett is guilty, the actor has repeatedly maintained that he was the victim of a brutal hate crime and denies his involvement.

“All criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,” Smollett’s lawyers said in a statement Tuesday, continuing to maintain that their client was “a victim.”

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'Empire' star Jussie Smollett during court appearances
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'Empire' star Jussie Smollett during court appearances
Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrives a news conference after a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a Tuesday morning statement that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs. (AP Photo/Amanda Seitz)
Empire actor Jussie Smollett appears with a fan as he walks out of the Leighton Criminal Court Building after a hearing Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement Tuesday that Smollett's record "has been wiped clean." Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs. (AP Photo/Amanda Seitz)
Actor Jussie Smollett exits courtroom 101 into the hallway at the Leighton Criminal Court Building following an emergency hearing over his disorderly conduct charges on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
US television actor Jussie Smollett attends Leighton Criminal Court with his attorney Tina Glandian (L) on March 14, 2019, in Chicago. - Smollett pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he lied to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. The 36-year-old actor was charged with 16 felony counts last week for allegedly masterminding a false attack to gain publicity and win a bigger paycheck. (Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his court appearance on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
US television actor Jussie Smollett attends Leighton Criminal Court with his attorney Tina Glandian (L) on March 14, 2019, in Chicago. - Smollett pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he lied to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. The 36-year-old actor was charged with 16 felony counts last week for allegedly masterminding a false attack to gain publicity and win a bigger paycheck. (Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett (C) leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his court appearance on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 14: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett stands accused of arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the Fox television drama 'Empire.' (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Actor Jussie Smollett(C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago. - A Chicago grand jury on March 8, 2019 indicted American actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. Police say Smollett -- who gained fame on Fox musical drama 'Empire' -- staged the attack in a bid to gain publicity and a bigger paycheck. (Photo by DEREK HENKLE / AFP) (Photo credit should read DEREK HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Actor Jussie Smollett(C) and team arrive for a court hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on March 12, 2019 in Chicago. - A Chicago grand jury on March 8, 2019 indicted American actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts after allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a racist, homophobic hate crime. Police say Smollett -- who gained fame on Fox musical drama 'Empire' -- staged the attack in a bid to gain publicity and a bigger paycheck. (Photo by Nova SAFO / AFP) (Photo credit should read NOVA SAFO/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 21: Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 21: Empire actor Jussie Smollett (partially obscured) leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
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Smollett performed two days of community service this week and was forced to forfeit a $10,000 bond ― a fraction of the more than $150,000 it reportedly cost Chicago police to investigate.

Asked Tuesday if he feels this penalty was appropriate, Magats told CBS News that he feels “it is,” adding that community service and a financial penalty is common for nonviolent cases.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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