One of the two Osundairo brothers who claim actor Jussie Smollett paid them to pull off a fake attack took the stand yesterday (December 1).
Per CBS News, Smollett, 39, faces six counts of disorderly conduct and is accused of lying to police about the 2019 incident where Smollett (who is Black and openly gay), told Chicago police that he was attacked by two masked men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, put a rope around his neck and doused him with bleach back in January 2019.
Prosecutors say Smollett orchestrated the incident and paid Abel and Ola Osundairo $3,500 to stage the attack, which he denies. Abel spoke about his own acting career and said he worked as an extra for Spike Lee’s 2015 film Chi-Raq and regularly appeared as an extra on Smollett’s former show Empire.
“We became very good friends,” Abel said of Smollett. “I would call him my brother.” He testified that Smollett wanted him to “fake beat him up” and claimed there was a discussion of who would punch Smollett. “I believe he said there was going to be a camera to capture the fake attack — that he wanted a camera to capture the fake attack,” Osundairo said.
When prosecutors asked Abel why he would agree to go through with the plan, he said he felt like he owed Smollett. “I agreed to do it, most importantly, because I felt indebted to Jussie,” he said. “He also got me a stand-in role on Empire, and I believed he could further my acting career.”
Abel and Ola were initially detained and suspected of carrying out the attack, but as the case developed, Smollett went from an alleged victim to a suspect. The brothers told investigators that Smollett gave them the money to buy the ski masks, rope and red hats to appear like Trump supporters.
Police said Smollett orchestrated the plan because of an anonymous hate-filled letter sent to the studio where Empire was filmed — and said Smollett did not think the threat was taken seriously.
Earlier yesterday, Kimberly Murray, a Chicago police detective, took the stand and accused Smollett of lying to her when he reported the incident. Murray said Smollett’s injuries were minor and testified that he refused to turn over cell phone records after reporting he’d received a threatening phone call before the alleged attack. She also said Smollett declined to turn over medical records related to his injuries and declined a cheek swab in an effort to pick up DNA on the rope that was tied around his neck.
On Monday, Smollett’s defense team insisted he was the victim of an attack perpetrated by the brothers and claimed police made a “rush to judgment” in accusing Smollett of lying.
Detective Michael Theis, a lead investigator in the case, disputed this, saying more than 20 officers investigated the crime for over 3,000 hours, reviewing more than 1,500 hours of surveillance video. “At the end of the investigation, we determined the alleged hate crime was actually a staged event — and the hate crime did not occur,” Theis said.