Jussie Smollett Case: An Update on Everything That's Happened Since the Attack

Empire actor Jussie Smollett reportedly staged an attack against himself late last month after a “racist” letter sent to the actor at the show’s television studio didn’t get a “bigger reaction,” according to local Chicago news station CBS 2.

A source told CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards that when the letter to Smollet “didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack,” and reportedly paid “acquaintances” Ola and Abel Osundairo over $3,000 to carry out the January 29th attack in Streeterville.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar spoke to the Osundairo brothers Monday afternoon, where they released a joint statement:  “We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”

According to The Daily Beast, Smollett received the letter on January 22nd at Chicago’s Cinespace Studios, and white powder in the letter prompted a HAZMAT team to respond. The white powder turned out to be aspirin, according to the Chicago Police Department. The note contained letters cut out from magazines, which, when pieced together, made “racial and homophobic threats” against Smollett.

Image via ThatGrapeJuice.net

During a search of the brother’s home last week, Chicago police recovered a “magazine, a wallet with stamps and piece of paper/writing.” The probe surrounding the letter is now being handled by the FBI.

Initially, Smollett claimed that two white men had attacked him on the streets of Chicago in the early hours of January 29th. One of the attackers allegedly wore a red hat that said “MAGA,” the abbreviation for President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential slogan “Make America Great Again,” and shouted racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett. The other attacker poured bleach and tied a rope around his neck, The Daily Beast reports.

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America on February 14th, Smollett described what happened during the alleged attack, revealing what the attackers said.

“They called me a f-----t, they called me a n----r,” he said. “There's no which way you cut it. I don't need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae.”

But CBS 2 reported that at least one of the brother purchased that rope “at Smollett’s request” from a hardware store on January 25th, and that the brothers rehearsed the attack with Smollett days before it took place. The red hat was also allegedly purchased from a beauty supply store.

The brothers told authorities that Smollett paid them $3,500 before they left the country to go to Nigeria. They were allegedly supposed to receive another $500 when they returned to the country.

Upon returning to the U.S., the brothers were arrested but are now cooperating with the Chicago police after being released without charges.

Gloria Schmidt, the Osundairo brothers’ attorney, told CBS 2 that “all the facts will reveal themselves” in due time. “At the end of the day my clients are honest and credible.”

Smollett’s lawyers issued a statement late Saturday, saying one of the brothers was Smollett’s former personal trainer and insisted that the attack was legitimate.

“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” his attorneys’ statement read. “He has been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth.”

Smollett, however, did not meet with Chicago police Monday, even though the police have expressed a desire to talk with the actor about the case, The Chicago Tribune reported.

“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today,” Smollett spokeswoman Anne Kavanagh said in an emailed statement Monday. “Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett's attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf. We have no further comment today.”

Responding to the statement, Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said he hopes a “mutually beneficial time” can be worked out between the police detectives and Smollett’s lawyers to discuss the case.