Two weeks after the apparent hate crime on Empire actor Jussie Smollett took place, the investigation took a different direction when police released the two suspects without charges in the case.
On Saturday, February 16 it was reported that Chicago police talked to the two suspects and the “new evidence” from the pair caused a “shift in the trajectory of the investigation” and police are now looking into whether Smollett was an active participant in the assault, and if he even paid the men.
In a statement Chicago PD said, “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We’ve reached out to the Empirecast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
Hours later, Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, provided a statement in response to the new reports: “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now 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 and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity. Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”
TMZ reported earlier that brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were the pair arrested in relation to the assault and were previously extras on Empire. The pair reportedly “completely cooperated” with police and allegedly showed a phone call that was placed between them and Smollett not long before the incident.
Since news of the assault which took place on January 29, 2019 was released, there have been many who have been skeptical of Smollett’s story, especially after he didn’t turn his phone over to police. “They wanted me to give my phone to the tech for three to four hours,” he said, noting sensitive information like “private pictures” and his partner’s number. “I’m sorry, but I’m not gonna do that.” He added, “I don’t know what that’s gonna be to hand over my phone. And, honestly, by then inaccurate, false statements had already been put out there.”