Jussie Smollett is an American actor, who more than likely, craved attention and adoration from his fan base. I’m sure he wanted the whole world to know his name. Sadly, for him, I believe that most people who do know his name don’t think of him favorably.
On January 29, 2019, sometime around 2:30 AM, Smollett told police that he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski-masks. He stated that during the “assault”, they derided him verbally by using racial and homophobic slurs and said, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump, somehow trying to link President Trump with the two thugs who allegedly “assaulted” him.
According to a press statement made by the Chicago Police Department, the two suspects then “poured an unknown liquid” on Smollett and put a noose around his neck. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and released later with no serious injuries. Smollett stated on several occasions that the attack may have been motivated by his criticism of President Trump and his administration.
After an exhaustive investigation by the Chicago Police Department to root out the “culprits”, wasting time, money and manpower, they came to the conclusion, that Jussie Smollett lied about the assault. The investigation revealed that Smollett hired two men, brothers, Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, to stage the attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career. Both the Osundairo brothers were acquainted with Smollet from the set of the Fox TV Show, Empire, and from the gym that they all frequent. The brothers told Police that they were paid $3,500.00 by personal check.
“Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson took it personally when detectives determined that ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett allegedly lied about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Speaking Thursday at a news conference, Johnson said he was angry and offended that another black man would exploit racial divisions for his own gain — and smear the reputation of a city Johnson has worked his entire career to protect.”
On February 20, 2019, it appeared that Justice would be served. Smollett was charged by a Grand Jury with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. The next day, Smollett, through a deal made by his attorney, was allowed to surrender himself at the Chicago Police Department’s Central Booking Station.
However, on March 26, 2019, all criminal charges filed against Smollett were dropped, with Judge Steven Watkins ordering the public court file sealed. In a public statement, the State Attorney’s Office said they reached a deal with Smollett’s defense team in which prosecutors dropped the charges upon Smollett performing 16 hours of community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond. Sadly, it appears Lady Justice was asleep at the wheel.
I was thankful to see that good professional people in Law Enforcement are still in the majority. After the charges were dropped, Chicago Prosecutor, Kim Foxx, faced severe backlash, as to include serious allegations of favoritism and leniency. Under extreme public pressure, in June of 2019, Foxx asked the state to conduct an independent inquiry by a special investigator/prosecutor. The person chosen for the job was Special Prosecutor Dan Webb. On February 11, 2020, after a more comprehensive investigation by Mr. Webb was completed, Smollett was indicted again by a Cook County Grand Jury on six counts of Disorderly Conduct, several more crimes than he was charged with by the Chicago Police Department. Although the charges of Disorderly Conduct sounds light, the statute states, as found in the included legistlation.
“Under 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1), a person is criminally liable for disorderly conduct ‘when he or she knowingly does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.’
A violation of subsection (a)(12) of this Section is a Business Offense and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $3,000. A second or subsequent violation of subsection (a)(7) or (a)(5) of this Section is a Class 4 felony. A third or subsequent violation of subsection (a)(11) of this Section is a Class 4 felony.”
The Class 4 felony charges carries a prison sentence of up to three years in a State Prison. It looks like Jussie Smollett may be in bigger trouble than he thought. Smollet’s defense team wasted no time in arguing the double jeopardy clause, which would preclude him from being charged for the same crime twice. However, at this Hearing held in June of 2020, the judge struck down Smollett’s claim of double jeopardy, as the statute used in the newer charges are vastly different in definition from the original charge of filing a false police report.
The Smollett trial began on November 29, 2021, and from jump street, the case does not appear to be in Smollett’s favor. For example, it was reported in the Chicago Tribune that Police Investigators, including Detective Robert Graves, who led the investigation, testified on Tuesday, November 30, that Smollett and the Osundairo brothers planned a “dry run” before the staged attack, At one point, jurors viewed a video taken in mid January of 2019 showing the brothers picking up rope, masks, and hats.
It was also reported in the Chicago Tribune that Abimbola Osundairo testified for the Prosecution on Wednesday, December 1. He stated that Smollett told him in January 2019 that he needed a job done “on the low,” which turned out to be Smollett’s plea to “fake beat him up”, but not enough to cause too much physical damage. Osundairo testified that Smollett also allegedly told him to use inflammatory racial and anti-gay epithets, as well as use the words, ” This is MAGA country”, during the staged assault.
As reported in the New York Times, Abimbola Osundairo stated on the stand:
“He wanted me to tussle and throw him to the ground and give him a bruise while my brother Ola would pour bleach on him and put a rope around him, and then we would run away,”
Smollett’s Defense Team’s strategy was still to portray his client as a “real victim”. During cross-examination, Defense Attorney Shay Allen, tried every trick in the book to discredit Abimbola Osundairo’s testimony, as to include suggesting that he and Jussie Smollett had a romantic relationship that went sour, making out his testimony to be from a jealous ex-lover.
Fast forward to Thursday, December 2. To add insult to injury, during cross-examination of Olabinjo Osundairo Ms. Walker changed strategy and attempted to make him out to be a homophobic bigot, who wanted to teach Smollett a “lesson”. In my layman opinion, the line of questioning was baffling from the Defense.
Defense Attorney Ms. Walker demanded a mistrial, claiming the presiding Judge, James Linn, made a “lunge” at her during a sidebar. An allegation Judge Linn vehemently denied.
“Walker and her defense team requested a mistrial.
As the exchange between the judge and the defense quickly escalated, Walker became emotional, at one point sobbing as she paced around a table.”
After the chaotic sidebar, it was reported that Judge Lin stated, “There will be no mistrial.”
The Prosecution rested their case on Thursday, after calling on seven witnesses, including the Osundairo brothers. Next week, it will be Smollett’s Defense team who will call their own witnesses and attempt to make Jussie Smollett the “real victim” of a hate crime, and not as a self-serving, duplicitous opportunist. In my opinion, it is a certainty that Smollett will be taking the stand. The question that remains until the Verdict is made, is will common sense, good Police work, and first hand witness testimony trump the alleged chicanery of the Defense on display during these proceedings? We will have our answer soon enough.