Jussie Smollett Was Reportedly Caught on Video Rehearsing Alleged Attack, Prosecutors Claim
02:46 GMT 01.12.2021 (Updated: 23:02 GMT 07.12.2021)
© AP Photo / Charles Rex ArbogastActor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for day two of his trial in Chicago.
© AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast
The actor claimed that in January 2019 he received a letter in which he was called the N-word and a "f*ggot." He then reported to the police that he was the victim of a racial attack in the street by two MAGA-hat-wearing males who were "white," but investigators later found out that Smollet might have hired "attackers" to stage the assault.
Jussie Smollett was allegedly caught on camera the day before his purported attack dry-running the incident, adding weight to the prosecution's assertions that he orchestrated the whole thing, Fox News reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, special prosecutor Dan Webb told the jury during opening statements on Monday that Smollett was concerned that a threatening hate letter addressed to the studio behind "Empire" was not taken seriously enough. Webb tried to persuade a jury that the actor paid the Osundairo brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo, to assault him.
© AP Photo / Charles Rex ArbogastBrothers Olabinjo Osundairo, right, and Abimbola Osundairo, who claim actor Jussie Smollett hired them to stage an attack on him, appear outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, after Smollett's court appearance on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year.
Brothers Olabinjo Osundairo, right, and Abimbola Osundairo, who claim actor Jussie Smollett hired them to stage an attack on him, appear outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, after Smollett's court appearance on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year.
© AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast
Surveillance video showing Smollett and his two siblings, who he worked with on the set of the TV show "Empire," practicing a kind of "dry run" of the attack in the area the day before it allegedly took place, was reportedly one piece of evidence foreshadowed during Webb's opening statements.
The prosecution alleged what the Osundairo brothers have already told investigators that after the dry run, they were given a check for $3,500 along with $100 in cash to purchase goods to stage the attack at Smollett's request.
According to reports, the prosecution summoned Chicago PD Detective Michael Theis, who testified that the siblings confessed the incident was a hoax when they were taken into custody.
Before policemen arrived at Smollett's apartment, Theis reportedly said that after the original incident was reported to police, Smollett "tightened" the rope that the brothers had wrapped around his neck to make it look more like a noose.
© AP Photo / Chicago Police DepartmentThis Jan. 29, 2019, image made from police body cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department purports to show Jussie Smollett, with a white rope wrapped around his neck, talking with police officers in his apartment in Chicago.
This Jan. 29, 2019, image made from police body cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department purports to show Jussie Smollett, with a white rope wrapped around his neck, talking with police officers in his apartment in Chicago.
© AP Photo / Chicago Police Department
Nevertheless, under cross-examination by Smollett's lawyer, he admitted that he had heard from another Empire cast member that Abimbola had insulted them for being gay.
Moreover, Smollett reportedly did describe at least one of the attackers as a white male, and the other as having light skin around his eyes, according to Theis.
Following the prosecution's opening statements, the prosecution immediately began displaying the jury surveillance video obtained by the Chicago PD, which reportedly showed the Osundairo siblings roaming around near Smollett on the night of the attack.
Theis explained how surveillance, security, and doorbell camera recordings were used to monitor the brothers' movements on the night of the attack and eventually identify them as the perpetrators.
The police reportedly started suspecting Smollett of lying only after they had found the brothers at the end of their investigation, which was surrounded by intense public pressure and an initially sympathetic attitude towards Smollett as a victim of a hate crime.
"At the end of our investigation we determined that the alleged hate crime was actually a staged event and that it did not occur," he told prosecutor Samuel Mendenhall.
However, defense lawyer Nenye Uche reportedly claimed that the two brothers attacked Smollett in January 2019 because they did not like him, and that the check the actor gave the men was for training so he could prepare for an upcoming music video, not for faking a hate crime, as prosecutors stated.
30 November 2021, 07:48 GMT
Smollett's lawyer also pushed the detective to admit that they discovered homophobic social media messages on the brothers' phone, in which homosexual males were described as "fruits." The defense allegedly plans to say that the two pretended to befriend Jussie in order to attack him later for being gay.
According to reports on the trial, Smollett also refused to hand over his phone and release his medical records.
The brothers are slated to testify later this week, though it is unclear whether Smollett will testify as well.