Jussie Smollett: Brothers’ Confession Video Shows Actor’s Story Unravelled

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In the 47th hour of that detention, in a small fluorescent-lit room painted a soft white, the brothers began to confess: it was all a hoax.

“He came up with a plan to pretend we attack him at his house,” Abimbola Osundairo told police.

A newly acquired video from the night of February 15, 2019 shows the Osundairo brothers telling police for the first time that Smollett ordered them to carry out a fake hate crime attack weeks earlier. The video even shows the brothers re-enact parts of the attack with police detectives, who playfully play along with the reenactment.

Still, the trial was not videoed to the public, so the 2019 confession video marks the general public’s first time seeing and hearing the brothers’ version of the events.

CNN+ obtained the video for its new documentary, “Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett,” now available exclusively on CNN+.

The hour-long documentary traces the tortuous history of the case and explores the wider criminal justice system in Chicago.

Smollett, who is black and gay, told police in January 2019 that he was attacked in the middle of the night outside his Chicago home by two mysterious figures. The two men used racist and homophobic statements, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck, he told authorities.
As the film documents, the Osundairo brothers’ confession eventually led to charges against Smollett for lying about the attack; the dismissal of those charges by a public prosecutor with a social justice; the appointment of a special prosecutor and a second indictment; and Smollett’s trial, conviction and sentence.
Smollett was sentenced in March to five months in prison, 30 months probation, a $25,000 fine and restitution of more than $120,000 to the city of Chicago. He has been released from prison pending an appeal against his conviction.

To tell the story, the documentary features interviews with former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Special Counsel Dan Webb, Cook County Attorney Kim Foxx, two of Smollett’s brothers and members of his legal team. Smollett did not make himself available for an interview.

What the confession video shows

In the 2019 confession video, the Osundairo brothers, who worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire”, explain that Smollett instructed them to carry out the hoax and planned it in advance. Abimbola Osundairo even shows the detective how he faked beating Smollett and repeats his lines from that night.

“Am I walking away from you or am I walking towards you?” asks the detective.

“You’re running away from me,” Abimbola Osundairo says.

“Okay, so we’re going to start there. I’ll walk away, then?” says the detective.

“I say, ‘Yo, aren’t you the f****tn***** of Empire?’ ‘ replied Abimbola Osundairo.

At another time, a detective is on the floor and Abimbola Osundairo reenacts how he vigorously rubbed his knuckles into Smollett’s face in an attempt to bruise him.

The brothers expressed differing views on Smollett’s motivation for the incident, the video shows. Abimbola Osundairo said he wasn’t sure why Smollett came up with the hoax.

“If I say something, it’s going to be an opinion. It’s not going to be based on what he said. So I think it’s to make people feel more for him,” he said.

Still, Olabinjo Osundairo said he knew Smollett’s motivation. He said Smollett had received a hate mail in recent weeks that the actor believed had been ignored.

“He may not remember, but I’m going to tell you,” Olabinjo Osundairo said in the video. “(Smollett) said his network doesn’t take the hate mail seriously, and that’s why he wanted to do this. Because they wanted it to be taken seriously. I remember that well.”

The brothers, who worked as fitness trainers, also told police that Smollett had written them a check for $3,500. They said they believed the check was in exchange for a meal and training plan before Smollett would appear in a music video, as well as for the hoax attack.

“The way it sounded made it seem like it could be for either/or — before the video and before,” said Abimbola Osundairo.

“I appreciate your candor and your honesty, I really do,” one detective told Olabinjo Osundairo.

In court, Smollett denied under oath that he orchestrated a hoax and testified that he was really a victim of hate crimes. He and his lawyers tried to question the brothers’ motivations and their story, but a jury voted unanimously to convict him.

Former Police Commissioner says Smollett should not face jail time

The documentary also features the perspectives of Johnson, the former police commissioner, and Foxx, the Cook County State Attorney.

Johnson was highly critical of Smollett during a press conference announcing the charges against him in February 2019. At the time, he said Smollett was “abusing the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Despite those harsh words, Johnson told CNN in the documentary that he didn’t think Smollett should spend time behind bars.

“From the very beginning, I never thought he would serve a prison sentence. Just be held accountable for it,” he said.

Johnson was fired from his leadership role in December 2019 by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said he lied about an incident where he was found asleep in his car after having a drink with dinner.
Foxx withdrew from the case in February 2019. Her office dropped all charges against Smollett that month after the actor agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and serve community service, noting that he had committed no previous crimes and posed no threat to the community.
However, Special Prosecutor Webb was appointed to re-examine the case and investigate whether Foxx’s office acted appropriately. Webb determined that the law firm and Foxx engaged in “significant abuse” in handling the case, but investigators found no evidence of criminal misconduct.

In the documentary, Foxx defended her decisions and progressive policies. She also questioned whether jail time was appropriate in Smollett’s case.

“The question is, was this justice and responsibility? Or was this satiety a revenge for him, without apologizing for what he did to the city?’ said Foxx.

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