Smollett attorney wants focus on brothers’ role in attack

Lawyer says Jussie Smollett was a crime victim who ‘just wants his life back.’

Smollett attorney wants focus on brothers’ role in attack

Now that charges have been dropped against Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor’s attorney is trying to shift attention back on two brothers who told police they were paid by Smollett to help stage a racist, anti-gay attack on him.

Investigators should look into the role of brothers Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who are of Nigerian descent, attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said after prosecutors dropped all 16 charges against Smollett on Tuesday.

“The two men who attacked him have indicated that they attacked him, so we already know who attacked him,” Holmes said.

On Wednesday, another Smollett attorney, Tina Glandian, told “Good Morning America” that the two brothers were lying. She said Smollett was a crime victim who “just wants his life back.”

Authorities said they still believe Smollett, who is black and gay, concocted the attack in which he said two masked men beat him on Jan. 29. He also said they yelled, “This is MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Smollett also said the men doused him with a chemical and put a noose around his neck. He told a detective that at least one of the attackers was white, according to Chicago police.

Cook County First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats told reporters that prosecutors dropped the case because Smollett forfeited a $10,000 bond payment and did community service. Magats also said that prosecutors needed to focus their time on violent crimes in Chicago.

READ MORE: All charges dropped against ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett

Authorities have said Smollett created the hoax because he was unhappy with his pay on the Fox show and wanted to promote his career.

The Osundairo brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to help stage the attack. Smollett said the $3,500 paid to the brothers was for fitness training.

Prosecutors have said Smollett and Abel Osundairo, 25, became friends in 2017 and that Abel Osundairo was a stand-in for a character on “Empire.” Court documents said Olabinjo Osundairo, 27, also appeared as an extra in the show.

The two brothers were initially drawn into the investigation after police released grainy images of two “persons of interest” in the area the night of the attack. Chicago police detained the brothers in mid-February at O’Hare International Airport after the returned from Nigeria, they were questioned and their apartment in Chicago was searched.

Within days, police said the brothers were considered suspects in the attack. But the two men were then abruptly released and not charged with a crime. They testified before a grand jury.

Soon after, Smollett was charged with filing a false police report of the attack. The brothers’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said then that the brothers did not testify as part of any plea deal with prosecutors and that they were not granted any immunity from prosecution.

Schmidt said in a statement Tuesday: “The Osundairo brothers were fully prepared to testify in any criminal proceeding in the Jussie Smollett case.”

In an interview with AP earlier this month , she said the brothers regretted their involvement.

“It started by them having a relationship with Mr. Smollett. Mr. Smollett being in a position of power over them — him being this celebrity person who could pull strings for them and help them in their career,” Schmidt said.

“They were thinking, ‘I’m going to help my friend. He’s asking for this,’” she said.

But Smollett’s lawyer said the brothers had backed up the actor’s version of events.

“The Osundairo brothers said more than once that the $3,500 check they received was for exactly what Jussie said. They were his trainers,” Holmes said.

During her interview Wednesday, Glandian acknowledged that Smollett talked and texted with the brothers in the hours before the attack. She said they discussed training and nutrition as Smollett’s flight to Chicago was delayed.

But she said Smollett had no idea who attacked him until the brothers were later identified by police.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oliver Stankiewicz, pictured with his parents David and Laura, will run 100 kilometres Sunday, May 9, in support of the McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH. (Contributed)
Man on the move for Mother’s Day in Vernon

Virtual run supporting McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has released its quarterly policing report for the first three months of 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Vernon crime statistics trend upward to start 2021

North Okanagan’s two First Nations see biggest crime rise compared to first quarter 2020

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Two cyclists traverse a closed Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna on June 29, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna recognized as bike-friendly city

City earns bronze in nationwide Bicycle Friendly Communities award program

Most Read