Jussie Smollett trial: Abimbola Osundairo testifies on his role on alleged hoax attack

What did Jussie Smollett do? Actor accused of lying to police
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Wednesday prosecutors called the first of two brothers who say they were hired by Jussie Smollett to stage his Streeterville attack.

Abimbola Osundairo, who goes by both Bola and Abel, took the stand to explain to jurors how he and his brother allegedly helped Smollett stage a hate crime. Bola Osundairo worked as an extra and stage hand on the set of "Empire," on which Smollett had a starring role. He said over the next few months they saw each other socially, going to strip clubs and bath houses, or doing drugs together in Smollett's Streeterville apartment.

Osundairo told jurors he became very good friends with the actor, saying, "I would call him a brother."

The Lake View High School graduate testified about a meeting he had with Smollett, in which he said the two went for a drive and Smollett told him he was upset that the studio wasn't taking seriously a threatening and racist letter he had received.

"He proceeded to tell me that he wanted me to beat him up," Osundairo said. "I was confused. I was just, I looked puzzled. And then he explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up."

Osundairo also said Smollett suggested a second person; they agreed on his brother Ola, who the actor didn't know as well. He said Smollett specifically requested they yell slurs, as well as "Empire" and "MAGA."

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Osundairo, an accomplished amateur boxer, testified that Smollett gave him a $100 bill to buy supplies and then they conducted a dry run with the three driving to the very location in Streeterville where the reported attack later occurred.

The siblings were not to rideshare to the attack location or bring cell phones, Osundairo testified, and Bola, the boxer, was to do the punching.

"He trusted me, he didn't trust me brother," he testified. "He wanted to look like he was fighting back, so I was supposed to give him a chance to fight back."

The attack was planned for the next night, but Smollett's flight into Chicago was delayed for hours. The two sent Instagram direct messages after landing, and he said Smollett told him on the phone to meet at 2 a.m.

After waiting in the frigid cold, the attack went off as planned with Ola putting the rope around Smollett's neck, Osundairo testified. He also said he, as directed by Smollett, sent a sympathy text when the attack made the news.

Osundairo told jurors he agreed to the plan because he felt indebted to the actor, who had gotten him a stand-in role on "Empire," and who he thought could help him with his acting career.

Earlier in the day, Chicago police detective Kimberly Murray testified about taking a report from Smollett the morning of the January 2019 attack at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Smollett told her two people attacked him as he returned home from buying a Subway sandwich. Jurors saw photos of the injuries Smollett said he suffered in the attack, which Murray described as "minor," including scratches on his face.

Police also testified about how Smollett's story changed during the investigation.

When originally interviewed by police following the alleged attack, the actor told detectives one of his masked attackers was white. Smollett identified the color of his skin by the bridge of his nose and the mask eye holes, but after the Osundairo brothers were taken into custody, Smollett told detectives the attacker may have had "pale skin." When CPD detective Robert Graves asked him about the description changed, Smollett said, "Well, he acted like he was white by what he said."

Smollett also told police one of his attackers yelled out homophobic and racial slurs "Empire f-word, Empire n-word, this is MAGA country, n-word f-word."

Despite what police called a horrible crime, Det. Graves said Smollet is the first victim in his 30 career that refused to give investigators his cell phone, medical records and a DNA sample. Smollett told police, as a celebrity, he was worried about leaks.

The defense contends Smollett was indeed the victim of hardened criminals; the Osundairo brothers, who they said had guns and drugs in their apartment. In opening statements the defense said those drugs were heroin, but police testified Tuesday it was actually a small amount of cocaine. The defense also alluded to a possible third accomplice.

Despite the case against Smollett, his older brother said he believes the facts will find he did nothing wrong.

"We're confident in his legal team, and we look forward to people hearing the actual facts in this case," Jojo Smollett said. "It has been incredibly painful as his family to watch someone you love be accused of something they did not do."

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Special prosecutor Dan Webb has said Smollett orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself, with the help of two men, back in 2019.
But the defense claims the attack wasn't fake, that Smollett was hurt in the incident and that the other two men involved were sophisticated criminals.

They also said while the Osundairos' story changed over time, Smollett's account has remained consistent.

Smollett told police he was walking home early in the morning back in January of 2019 when two men recognized him and began hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him.

He said the men struck him, wrapped a noose around his neck and shouted, "This is MAGA country."

Just weeks later, Smollett was charged with staging the attack to further his career and secure a higher salary. Police said he hired two brothers to pretend to attack him for $3,500.

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Chicago police released their investigative files and video Monday of the alleged staged attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in late January.



Twelve jurors and three alternates were seated Monday, made up of six men and six women, only one of them Black, along with two female alternates.
The trial is expected to last about a week, and it is not clear if Smollett will take the stand in his own defense.

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Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police, a class 4 felony which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, but experts believe if Smollett is convicted he would most likely be placed on probation.

He has pleaded not guilty.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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