Hundreds of hours of reviewed footage and multiple interviews around the alleged homophic, racist attack of actor Jussie Smollett have led the Chicago Police Department to Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, Nigerian bodybuilding brothers living in the city.
The Osundairos, who are also aspiring actors and are identified as personal trainers hired by Smollett, were returning from Nigeria when police met them at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to take them in for questioning.
They were released without any charges. Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer, released this statement following the questioning of the Osundairo brothers:
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 Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.
Smollett, a star on popular Fox show, “Empire” told Chicago police that he was attacked by two masked men on his way to a downtown Subway sandwich shop in the early morning of January 29.
In the assault, Smollett claims that assailants shouted homophobic and racist epithets while also spewing language supporting Donald Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again” or MAGA. The acronym has become synonymous with prejudice and bigotry, as it has been used as a term by white nationalists. In addition, the attackers poured a chemical on Smollett and tied a rope around his neck symbolizing a lynching. Since, detectives have looked for evidence pertaining to the case.
Deadline and CNN reported that Smollett may have played a role in an attack that was orchestrated. A Twitter post by Guglielmi denies the source.
Media reports anout the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate. pic.twitter.com/iSO5YFv452
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 15, 2019
In response to the growing ambiguity around the case, Smollet’s lawyers, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, released a statement on behalf of the actor.
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.
“Empire” is set in New York City, but films in Chicago. Lee Daniels, the creator of the show and its executive producer, Brett Mahoney, have expressed support for Smollett. As well, a list of actors and political officials back the actor making this a high-profile case for the police department.
— Brett Mahoney (@TheBrettMahoney) February 18, 2019
According to Chicago PD, the case is still underway.
While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident. pic.twitter.com/b9GgXbSUt9
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 17, 2019