Prosecutors Release Shocking Details in Jussie Smollett Case, Plus: Did He Tell Police He Has a Drug Problem?
UPDATE: Jussie Smollett is back on the set of "Empire," just hours after posting bail, reports TMZ. He was reportedly running late, and addressed the cast and crew once he arrived, saying, "I'm sorry I've put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I'm sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”
Hours after his mug shot was released, more details emerged on what led to Jussie Smollett's arrest.
During a news conference, prosecutor Risa Lanier detailed Smollett's alleged plan. Lanier revealed that Smollett was “close friends” with one of the men, Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo, who was “a source of designer drugs” for the “Empire” actor.
Since spring of 2018, Smollett “requested” Molly, also known as MDMA, from Osundairo on “several occasions.”
Smollett allegedly texted Abel days before the attack, “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?”
Prosecutors say they met up at Cinespace Studios and Smollett drove Abel home. During a car ride, Smollett expressed that he wanted to stage an attack, involving Abel. He also suggested that Abel's brother Ola be part of the attack.
Once they were outside Abel's apartment, Ola was “summoned” into Smollett's car, where he detailed his plans, which involved the brothers attacking him but making sure they “not hurt him too badly.”
The brothers left the car with a $100 bill, provided by Smollett, who wanted them to purchase “rope, gasoline, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps.”
The ride from Cinespace to the Osundairo's residence was corroborated by CPD POD videos and cellular phone towers.
On Sunday, January 27, Smollett met up with the brothers and showed them “where he wanted the stage attack to take place” — outside his apartment building.
During their meeting, it was decided that “bleach was going to be used rather than gasoline.” He also “provided them with a $3,500 personal check made payable to Abel.”
The following day, the brothers purchased clothing at a local beauty supply store and rope at a hardware store with the money from Smollett. The purchases were corroborated by surveillance footage and a receipt. Abel deposited the check on the same day.
Though the attack was planned for 10 p.m. Chicago time, it was pushed back due to Smollett's delayed flight from NYC. After his plane landed at 12:30 a.m., phone records reveal a call between Smollett and Abel at 12:49 a.m. During the three-minute call, “Smollett told Abel the attack would take place at exactly 2:00 a.m. at the pre-set location.”
Uber records confirm that Ola ordered a ride share to his home, which would take them near the crime scene. They would flag down a taxi to take them “within three blocks of the arranged scene at approximately 1:22 a.m.” The in-taxi capture corroborated this ride.
Fifteen minutes after he arrived at his apartment at 1:30 a.m., Smollett walked to a Subway. Since he didn't arrive at the planned crime scene at the exact time, the brothers “proceeded a quarter block north and waited near a bench.” Four minutes later, the planned attack took place, but a witness, an employee of NBC News Chicago, “heard nothing at the time the staged attack was occurring” as she was exiting her car around the “corner from the location.”
The staged attack “lasted 45 seconds,” but was not captured by the cameras since “it was just outside the view of the desired nearby camera.”
After the staged attack, the brothers ran from the location and took a taxi from the Hyatt Regency Hotel across the Chicago River. They arrived near their apartment at 2:27 a.m. a few minutes later, and Smollett's manager called the police “to report the incident.”
At around 2:42 a.m., the police arrived at Smollett's apartment, observing that he still had “a rope draped around his neck.” He would claim that “the offenders struck him while yelling racial slurs” and “placed a rope around his neck, poured a liquid chemical on him, and told him "this is MAGA country." He also told the police that the area around the attackers' eyes “was white-skinned.”
During his interview with “Good Morning America,” Smollett told Robin Roberts, “And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more.”
Less than 24 hours after the reported attack, Smollett placed a five-second call to Abel, who called back two minutes later. The following day, Smollett called Abel, who was in Istanbul. The call was nearly nine minutes long.
After two weeks of investigating, police were able to identify the Osundairo brothers as the alleged attackers. When they returned to Chicago from Nigeria, they were detained by U.S. Customs. After executing a search warrant, the police found out that Abel and Ola were linked to Smollett's show “Empire.”
Once the brothers consulted with their legal representation, they agreed to cooperate in the investigation, which “shifted from a Hate Crime to Disorderly Conduct investigation.”
Smollett was arrested February 21 after the Cook County State's Attorney's Office “approved charges of Disorderly Conduct.” TMZ reports that Smollett told police he has a drug issue during his arrest. When asked if he has alcohol or mental health problems, Smollett answered “no,” based on court documents.