All of the pieces in the Jussie Smollett story came together in the last few hours as the “Empire” actor turned himself in to police.
Smollett faces felony charges of filing a false report and disorderly conduct in last month’s alleged assault in which he claimed two men had attacked him, poured a chemical on him and put a rope around his neck, while yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Press Briefing: Jussie Smollet is under arrest and in custody of detectives. At 9am at #ChicagoPolice Headquarters, Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court. pic.twitter.com/9PSv8Ojec2
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, tweeted the updated news on Wednesday.
Two men connected to the alleged attack were arrested last week, and their home raided by investigators, but they were later released without charges. Ola and Abel Osundairo told police they were paid $3,500 to help the actor stage the attack.
Surveillance video of the Nigerian brothers showed them in a Chicago hardware store buying a red hat and ski masks the day before the incident. CBS 2 Chicago reporter Charlie De Mar posted the video showing the men bringing the items up to the store counter the day before the alleged Jan. 29 assault in which Smollett claimed men with similar items had attacked him.
I tracked down surveillance of the Osundairo’s buying supplies before “attack”
Sources say Jussie Smollet told brothers what to buy.
Countless phone calls placed for this.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 20, 2019
The Osundairos appeared before a grand jury in Chicago but their attorney said they were not charged with anything because they did nothing wrong.
Gloria Schmidt spoke to reporters following her clients’ appearance before the grand jury.
“There was a point where this story needed to be told,” she said, adding that the brothers “manned up” and testified though there has been no plea deal or immunity granted.
‘Story needed to be told’: #GloriaSchmidt – the lawyer of the two brothers involved in the on-going #JussieSmollett investigation – says her clients testified for about two and a half hours. pic.twitter.com/PVmMvY1UF5
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) February 21, 2019
When asked about Smollett’s claim that the men were lying, Schmidt said the actor “should come clear because the truth will set him free.”
“I think that Jussie’s conscience is not letting him sleep right now so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what really happened,” she added.
While the 36-year-old actor’s career will certainly be affected by the outcome of the hoax crime, producers for “Empire” have not indicated that he will be cut from the show.
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set,” 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, the show’s studio, said in a statement to ITK on Wednesday before the actor was arrested, according to The Hill. The show’s team had indicated its support of Smollett, saying the actor is “not being written out of the show.”
Smollett’s Chicago-based attorneys vowed Wednesday that they would “mount an aggressive defense” to the charges.
Statement from #JussieSmollett lawyers “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.” ….(1/2)
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 21, 2019
(2/2)…” Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.” #Smollett
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 21, 2019
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement.
A bond hearing for Smollett has been set for Thursday afternoon.
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