Jussie Smollett lawyer says there was nothing fake about alleged Streeterville attack that left actor bruised
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The prosecution's first witness in Jussie Smollett's trial was a Chicago police detective who was one of the lead investigators on the case, testifying the "Empire" actor staged his own attack.
Smollett was again surrounded by his family when he walked into his second day in court Tuesday morning, but was testy leaving after hours of testimony, telling the media gathered, "Alright, that's enough. That's enough. Get away from us. Get away."
Prosecutors first called Detective Michael Theis, who led the investigating into Smollett's report, to the stand.
He said more than two dozen officers worked the case, spending 3,000 staff hours on the investigation while combing through 1,500 hours of video footage.
"Everyone wanted to know what happened," Theis said. "From the mayor on down, everybody wanted answers."
Prosecutors said there are facts that show Smollett staged his own hate crime. Theis told the jury that after reviewing 1,500 hours of surveillance, dozens of phone records and social media messages, "We determined the alleged hate crime was a staged event."
Theis said from video, investigators identified two persons of interest near the crime scene and connected them to a cab that had dropped them off, and then to an Uber ride near the taxi pickup ordered by one of the Osundairo brothers.
When the siblings were arrested they lawyered up, Theis said, but began to cooperate after the "Empire" actor appeared on Good Morning America to say the images released by police were of his attackers.
Theis testified Smollett texted Bola Osundairo while he and his brother were in custody to express support, saying he knew they did nothing wrong.
But under cross-examination, Theis acknowledged a security guard near the attack scene told investigators he saw a white man in a ski mask running from the area. Theis also acknowledged he was aware of an unverified report that Bola Osundairo may have attacked someone on the "Empire" set for being gay.
Theis said he never interviewed that accuser. The line of questioning brought objections from the prosecution.
The jury was also shown police body cam video of Smollett with a noose around his neck minutes after police were called. The camera was worn by Officer Muhammad Baig, who said after gathering initial details from Smollett he called in a supervisor, Sergeant Joseph Considine, who said he regarded the actor as a victim of a heinous crime.
"I was a little shocked," said the 24-year police veteran. "I thought that he was being targeted."
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."
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.
Smollett's trial began Monday, nearly three years after the former "Empire" actor reported he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in Chicago.
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.
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.
Smollett faces six counts of disorderly conduct, 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.
What to expect from Jussie Smollett trial
The Associated Press contributed to this report.