CHICAGO — The decision to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett has raised questions about the role two brothers played in the alleged attack.
In a stunning reversal, prosecutors dropped all charges against Smollett Tuesday. He had been charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after Chicago police say he staged a racial and homophobic attack in the city in January.
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.
Within days, police said the brothers were considered suspects in the attack. But then, the two men were abruptly released and were not charged with a crime.
They testified before a grand jury, and soon after Smollett was charged with filing a false report of the attack.
The brothers’ attorney Gloria Schmidt said her clients were telling the truth and were prepared to do so in court.
Schmidt said she was baffled by the decision to drop charges against Smollett.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” Schmidt said. “For the State’s Sttorney’s office to drop it completely, and not consult with the victim, and with the complaining witnesses, and the key witnesses in this case, I think is baffling.”
Those key witnesses are her clients. The Osundairo brothers told police they were paid by Smollett to help stage a racist homophobic attack on him.
“I never doubted for a second what my clients had told me,” Schmidt said.
Smollett’s lawyers are pushing to have police once again examine the brothers’ role in the attack.
“I think that people need a reason to heal and while it might be easier to blame the Osundario brothers, it might be easier to do that to conclude that matter, but it’s just not the case,” Schmidt said.
The Osundairo brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3500 dollars to help stage the attack. Smollett said the money was fitness training.
There was payment, it was for training. It was for asking them to do a favor also,” Schmidt said. “So you really need to look the intentions. It was always to help a friend.”
So where does that leave the brothers?
“The same question could be asked, ‘Where does that leave the city of Chicago? Where does that leave the taxpayers? Where does that leave the detectives who spent time away from family to piece together this case?’” Schmidt said. “That question is going to be answered in the coming weeks, I think because we really don’t know.”