Actor Jussie Smollett is maintaining his innocence as he faces new charges for allegedly lying to police officers about a January 2019 attack.
The ‘Empire’ star was seen entering Chicago court on Wednesday wearing a blue suit with a lighter blue blazer to face six counts of felony misconduct for allegedly lying to police about the racist and homophobic attack.
On his way into court, FOX News reports, Smollett insisted he was innocent and called the proceedings a ‘dog and pony show.’
Actor Jussie Smollett was seen entering Chicago court on Wednesday wearing a blue suit and a lighter blue blazer
In an interview with FOX News, the former ‘Empire’ star denied that he lied to the police about a January 2019 attack and called the proceedings ‘a dog and pony show’
Smollett, 39, is facing six counts of felony misconduct for allegedly lying to police about the racist and homophobic attack
He previously faced 50 years in prison for staging the attack to boost his public profile, but the charges were dropped
Smollett was arrested in 2019 for allegedly faking the attack
Smollett, 39, was indicted by a special prosecutor with six counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in February 2020, more than one year after the actor claimed two masked men attacked him as he was walking home.
He had claimed that the men approached him in the early morning hours of January 29, 2019 and made ‘racist and homophobic remarks,’ beat him down and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing. He also claimed one of the attackers was a white man who told him he was in ‘MAGA country,’ a reference to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan – ‘Make America Great Again,’ and called him the ‘N-word.’
Police later identified the ‘attackers’ as Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, who said the actor paid them $3,500 to jump him on a Chicago street in an effort to raise his public profile, because he was unhappy with his gig on ‘Empire.’
Smollett was then hit with a 16-count grand jury indictment and faced more than 50 years behind bars — until State’s Attorney Kim Foxx suddenly dropped all the charges last March in exchange for him doing community service.
It was a decision that blindsided and outraged Chicago’s former mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Chief of Police Eddie Johnson.
Smollett, who has all along insisted he is innocent, then sued the city for malicious prosecution.
His attorney Tina Glandian issued a statement following the new charges in February 2020, saying: ‘The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.’
Smollett was indicted with the six counts for falsifying a police report in February 2020
The actor’s fall from grace began on January 30, 2019, when it emerged that Smollett, an openly gay black man, claimed he had been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack.
At the time, it seemed he had been walking home from a Subway in the middle of the night after returning home late on a delayed flight when he was approached.
He told police afterwards his attackers identified him from the show he was on, Empire, and called him both the N-word and ‘f****t’.
He said they beat him, poured bleach on him then put a noose around his neck.
Smollett then went back to his apartment where his friend, Frank Gaston, was. It was Gaston who insisted they call police.
When officers arrived, the actor refused to hand over his phone.
He went to the hospital to be checked over but had no major injuries.
Smollett was hospitalized in Chicago in January 2019, after he claimed two masked me approached him as he was walking home from a Subway and beat him, calling him a ‘f*****’ and the ‘N-word’ and saying he was in ‘MAGA country’
Police said Smollett was still wearing a noose around his neck when they began to question him on January 29
In investigating the incident, Chicago police released grainy surveillance footage of two men they believed were the attackers, whom Smollett later positively identified as his alleged attackers
The suspects were seen taking a cab to the location of the attack that night
The attack allegedly occurred in the early morning hours of January 29
As the attack made national headlines, Chicago police vowed to investigate the incident with all its might, and celebrities around the world rushed to share their support of Smollett.
He became a household name almost overnight.
But as the police investigation progressed, leaks began from within the police department that all may not have been as it seemed.
As the controversy grew, Smollett – determined to make his case – went on Good Morning America where he cried and insisted he was telling the truth.
By then, Chicago PD had released grainy surveillance camera footage of two men walking near the scene of the incident itself which was among the only part of his journey not captured on Chicago’s vast network of security cameras that night.
Smollett unequivocally identified the two men in the grainy footage as his attackers.
Neither their faces nor skin color could be made out in it.
Unbeknownst to him, while he was conducting his GMA interview, the Chicago PD was building a case against him.
They had identified the people in the video as the Osundairo brothers and had backed-up their claim that he had paid them for the attack by tracking the pair’s movements in the days and hours both before and after the incident.
Smollett was eventually arrested and charged with suspicion of lying to police.
Police later identified Abel and Olabinjo Osundairo (pictured) as the two suspects, but they told police Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack in an effort to boost his public profile
The brothers appeared in court in February 2020 and said they just wanted Smollett to tell the truth
The brothers flew to Nigeria within hours of the January 29 incident and missed the media storm which followed.
When they landed back in the US, police investigators were waiting to question them.
After hours of secret interviews, they told cops that Smollett had paid them to carry out the attack as part of an elaborate hoax.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August to examine what occurred in the case
Smollett was then arrested.
In an extraordinary press conference afterwards, then police chief Eddie Gallagher accused him of inflaming race relations in Chicago and of wasting police time.
He bellowed that Smollett had tried to leverage the ‘attack’ to get his bosses at Empire to pay him more.
Smollett was reportedly making between $65,000 to $125,000 an episode, according to Business Insider.
Despite police outrage, prosecutor Kim Foxx was quiet.
The case then went to a grand jury which returned a stunning, 16-felony indictment that would have put Smollett behind bars for more than 50 years if he had been convicted.
By then, Foxx had informally recused herself from the case.
Her conflict of interest was that in the early days of the police investigation, she intervened at the request of Smollett’s family and their friend – Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen – who wanted the FBI to take over the police investigation.
They said they were worried by the number of leaks that had come from the Chicago PD and asked Foxx to help. She said she would try.
After the grand jury indictment, the case stalled for a few weeks.
Then, in March 2019, Foxx’s deputy Joseph Magats – who had taken over – announced the decision that the charges against Smollett had been dropped.
Foxx had intervened again, it emerged, and pointed to what they called ‘alternative prosecution’ whereby Smollett, a first-time offender, was let off with a $10,000 bail forfeiture and community service.
There was outrage and calls for Foxx to be investigated herself for prosecutorial misconduct.
As judges and special prosecutors for that task were tossed around, the city came out swinging in civil court. They sued Smollett, asking him to reimburse them for all the money they said they’d wasted investigating what they believed were bogus claims.
Smollett counter-sued, accusing the city and Eddie Gallagher of malicious prosecution. He lost his job on Empire and became a pariah in the showbiz world he was allegedly trying to ascend through.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed in August 2019 to investigate why Foxx’s office had dropped the charges.
He himself faced criticism and claims of another conflict of interest when it emerged he had donated $1,000 to Foxx’s re-election campaign once.
Smollett was a star on the FOX show ‘Empire,’ and allegedly staged the attack in an effort to boost his salary
In September, Smollett gave his first interview since being arrested, calling the case against him ‘frustrating.’
‘It’s been beyond frustrating, and I certainly am not going rogue,’ he said in an interview with author and academic Marc Lamont Hill. ‘I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that, but I don’t really see, honestly, what staying quiet has really done, like, where it has gotten me. … It’s so much bigger than me.’
Speaking on Lamont’s Instagram, Smollet said: ‘I’m going to give it up to God, but if I’m being completely honest, I don’t think that… they’re not going to let this go.
‘There is an example being made and the sad thing is there is an example being made of someone who did not do what they are accused of.
‘On one hand, when I step back, I see how [Chicago Police] played the narrative, the way that they served it to the people. That it was intentionally created to make people doubt from the very beginning.
‘From the very, very beginning, it was made to seem that I was lying about something or everything. But at the same time, I’m not really living for the people who don’t believe.’
The city of Chicago have requested that the FBI hand over records of their own probe into Smollett’s case.
Asked how he was feeling, the actor responded saying the question ‘baffles’ him at the moment.
He said: ‘Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m so angry. Other times I wake up and if I squint really hard, I can see the silver lining.
‘The one thing I always wake up [and think] no matter how I feel is that this is an opportunity to have a real conservation in our own communities about truth.
‘The thing that really gets me is the fact that there are black and brown women and men behind bars for things they did not do.
‘I am certainly well informed about the plight of us. What happened in these last two years, it has humbled me in a way that nobody could possibly understand.’
The evidence against Jussie Smollett
When Jussie Smollett was arrested last February, prosecutors laid out their case in a lengthy bond proffer which detailed the proof they said they had against him.
It included the following pieces of evidence.
PHONE RECORDS AND TEXTS
Texts between Smollett and Abel Osundairo for weeks before hand regarding personal training and diet.
One text, which they say was when Smollett put the plan in motion, read: ‘Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?’
Abel had already told him that he was going to Nigeria on January 29 for a trip with his brother.
Crucially, there were also records of phone calls between him and Abel on the night of the attack.
At 12:49 AM, there was a phone call between Smollett and Abel which lasted three minutes.
Prosecutors say it was during this call that he said the attack would take place at 2am.
On January 29, 2019 at 7:45 PM, just less than 18 hours following reported attack, Smollett placed a phone call to Abel and the duration of the call was five seconds. Two minutes later, Abel called back Smollett and the call lasted 1 minute and 34 seconds. The brothers then boarded their flight to Nigeria and left the country.
On January 30, 2019 at 10:46 AM, Defendant Smollett called Abel, who was in Istanbul Turkey, and the duration of the call lasted 8 minutes and 48 seconds.
UBER AND TAXI RECORDS
Uber receipts showed that Abel and Ola Osundairo were picked up from their home and driven to the scene of the attack at the time it happened.
They were then identified by a taxi driver afterwards who said he drove them home.
Footage of the actual attack does not exist – it happened in a blind spot of the cameras.
However Abel and Ola Osundairo were pictured buying equipment for it – supposedly with a $100 bill Smollett gave them – the day beforehand.
They were seen in a Chicago store buying ski masks, gloves, bandanas, sunglasses and red hats.
They were also seen in surveillance footage which Smollett identified as showing his attackers.