TMZ is reporting that Jussie Smollett not only staged the hate crime against himself but also scouted a location and rehearsed how it would go down with the two brothers who carried it out:
Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, Abel and Ola Osundairo told cops they got in a car with Jussie and scouted a location, settling on the one right outside the actor’s apartment. The brothers said Jussie chose the spot because he believed a camera would have captured the action.
Our sources say the brothers told police Jussie said he wanted to make it a “physical thing,” but not to the point he’d be seriously injured.
Also today, CBS 2 in Chicago is reporting on a possible motive for the attarck. Reporter Charlie DeMar has previously been ahead of the curve on this story and he’s one of three reporters on this story:
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, upset after a racist letter sent to the show’s studio didn’t get a “bigger reaction,” is suspected of paying two men to attack him a week later, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.
“When the letter didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack,” a source told CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards. Other sources corroborated that information…
De Mar spoke on the phone exclusively with the Osundairo brothers Monday afternoon. In a joint statement, they said: “We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
There had previously been a report that Smollett may have been motivated to stage a hate hoax because he was about to be written off of Empire. Writers for the show quickly rebutted that claim last week saying there had never been any talk of removing him from the show. But this new report suggests the motive could be simpler.
The letter containing threats and white powder (which turned out to be aspirin) was sent to the studio where the Empire is filmed on January 22. Here’s what it looked like (alongside a list of items seized from the brother’s apartment):
CBS 2 notes that one of the things seized in the search of the apartment was a magazine. Another item recovered was unused stamps. So it seems possible police are looking to see if the letters cut out to create the threatening note came from the magazines found in the apartment. It certainly seems like quite a coincidence that the letter contained the same slurs and even appeared to show the rope later put around Smollett’s neck by the two brothers. Finally, the Wrap is reporting today that Smollett has no plans to meet with Chicago PD:
“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today,” Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, said. “Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.”
Maybe the cops are waiting to talk with Jussie when they have all their ducks in a row. We’ll have to wait and see what the evidence proves but at the moment it’s not looking good for Smollett.