The racially-charged hate crime involving Jussie Smollett has taken a curious new turn as a grand jury will hear the case early next week, TMZ reports.
Law enforcement sources connected to the investigation tell the outlet that they are keeping a close eye on the two Nigerian brothers who were arrested, questioned and then released on Friday. Ola and Abel Osundairo, one of which worked as an extra on the hit FOX music drama series Empire, are reportedly staying in downtown Chicago as the case pushes forward. Investigators want to be sure they have no contact with Smollett.
According to published reports, police suspect the singer/actor paid the brothers to orchestrate an assault on him late last month. But Smollett’s attorneys refute the allegations.
The Osundairo brothers were released without charges on Friday after investigators discovered “new evidence” that shifted the “trajectory of the investigation,” BBC.com reports.
As the investigation rolls on, sources connected to the case are spilling the tea to TMZ, such as details on the raid of the brothers’ home and the discovery of magazines with missing pages. Investigators are now trying to determine if they are connected to the threatening letter that Smollett received in the week before the alleged attack. Law officials also believe the brothers purchased the rope that was around his neck after the incident.
When the Empire star was notified that the brothers were in custody and considered suspects, he reportedly declined to sign complaints against them. Police officials found it suspicious that the area where Smollett said he was attacked happened near an obscure camera, which was pointed away from the scene of the crime. Cops also thought it strange that he knew the location of this particular camera.
Investigators also don’t believe the attackers shouted, “This is MAGA country,” because, “Not a single Trump supporter watches ‘Empire.'”
Smollett’s legal team vehemently deny he had any role in the assault he alleges was carried out by two white males.
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” a statement from lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said.
“He has now been further victimised 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.”
The attorneys also notes that it is “impossible to believe” that one of the brothers could be involved with this attack as he is Smollett’s personal trainer.
“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,” the statement read.
In an interview last week with Good Morning America that aired Thursday, Smollett expressed frustration about not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”
He also denied reports that said he told police the attackers wore “Make America Great Again” hats.
“I never said that,” he told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae.”
Meanwhile many agree with attorney Scott Hechinger, who made note about the credibility of the Chicago police, “No idea what actually happend w/ Jussie Smollett. But do know that 4 years ago, Chicago PD spent 13 months justifying Laquan McDonald’s murder before releasing dashcam video showing he was walking away before being shot at 16x by an officer. Why are we just accepting their word?”
No idea what actually happened w/ Jussie Smollett. But do know that 4 years ago, Chicago PD spent 13 months justifying Laquan McDonald’s murder before releasing dashcam video showing he was walking away before being shot at 16x by an officer. Why are we just accepting their word?
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) February 17, 2019