Actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett has been taken into police custody.
“Jussie Smollett is under arrest and in custody of detectives,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police, posted on Twitter early Thursday morning. He added “Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court” at 9 a.m. at police headquarters.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed prosecutors charged 36-year-old Jussie Smollett with felony disorderly conduct, an offense that, if he is found guilty, would bring a one to three year prison sentence. The actor could also be forced to pay restitution for the cost of the investigation.
The indictment was based on the testimonies of Nigerian brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who implicated Smollett as the planner of the attack. To clarify, a grand jury does not require evidence to be “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a person to be charged with a crime. It only requires “probable cause,” which is far less than the acceptable legal standard to convict someone.
There have been instances throughout the investigation, which when reported, separately, seem minor. However, when put altogether, they raise some pretty serious questions.
Initial reports from the police stated that Smollett and his manager were not willing to cooperate with investigators when they asked to confiscate his personal phone to corroborate his story. That turned out to not be true. In fact, Smollett gave police copies of his phone records with some information redacted because he has certain high-profile friends and it was unnecessary information to the investigation. Police said the records were “not sufficient.” Even his manager sent a screenshot of the call between the two men as the attack occurred.
In another report, police stated that they were given a PDF of his phone records and that they would use that to corroborate the timeline of the attack.
Although Jussie Smollett was reluctant to call the police that morning, he returned home after being attacked. He did at the urging of his friend, Frank Gatson, a 60-year-old man who was at the actor’s home when the attack took place. Police came and Smollett led them outside to where the attack took place and even identified and showed police an overhead camera located at the intersection, which should have recorded the attack. The detective on the scene informed him, at that time, the camera was facing north and didn’t capture the attack.
The point of the attack had been already verified by police with evidence being found on the scene. And an officer had established there was no footage from the one camera, which could have recorded the attack. Yet, police specified that they went through “hundred of hours of surveillance footage throughout the area from businesses and hotels” looking for the attack. That doesn’t make sense.
After scouring “hundreds of hours of surveillance footage,” police issue a photo of two men allegedly walking in the area where the attack took place. Those brothers were later identified as the Osundairo brothers. What seems strange is the police photo from the street cam footage does not show any date, time stamp or actual location linking the brothers to being at/near Smollett’s attack. It is only referenced by police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
So, how has it been confirmed that the brothers were actually in the neighborhood or even on that street during that time? The photo could be from anywhere. The city of Chicago also has an elaborate camera system throughout many streets which was implemented by the POD program so why is there no information on the photo?
But probably the biggest eyebrow-raising information to be shared is an “alleged exclusive video” of the Osundairo brothers purchasing the materials to “execute” the attack on Jussie Smollett. Throughout the article, it was reported that “sources” stated that the brothers bought rope at a hardware store on Jan. 25, that Smollett even rehearsed the attack with the brothers prior to the Jan. 29 incident and finally the video which was discovered and shared “exclusively” by CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar which shows a 22-second video, supposedly, from Jan. 28 at an undisclosed store buying a red hat, ski masks and other items.
The video had not been shared until this past Wednesday. What’s even more interesting is the date in the bottom left-hand corner states 2/20/2019 with a 1pm time stamp as being the time of purchase. Simply enlarge the video and it’s easily seen.
See below for an enlarged image of the date and time stamp.
Almost a month AFTER the attack. The location of the store has yet to be identified although it appears to be a beauty supply store. Where exactly is this store located and is there corroborating street cam footage that the brothers were there yesterday?
What do the Osundairo brothers have to gain by testifying to a grand jury against Smollett?
There are conflicting reports of the Nigerian brothers’ actual citizenship. They may be the children of Nigerian nationals, who aren’t US citizens, or not citizens themselves. If these men were offered anything in exchange for their testimony, it’s customary to disclose the offer at trial. Or worst case scenario, their immigration status was threatened and they complied by implicating Smollett in his own attack which would explain the “exclusive surveillance” footage.
It certainly isn’t farfetched to doubt the “good” intentions of the Chicago Police Department with its extensive history of railroading blacks and department corruption. This case would be consistent with the department’s conduct to have the brothers cooperate.
Sadly, there are no winners in this situation.