Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack

Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
© Charles Rex Arbogast Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for day three of his trial in Chicago. AP

A man who worked with Jussie Smollett gave evidence on Wednesday that the former Empire actor had recruited him and his brother to fake a homophobic and racist attack on him in Chicago about three years ago.

Abimbola Osundairo said Smollett asked him and his brother “to fake beat him up” and instructed them on how to carry out the January 2019 attack.

Smollett planned a “dry run” and gave him $100 to buy supplies for the staged attack, Mr Osundairo said.

He said he and his brother had agreed because Mr Osundairo, who worked as a stand-in on Empire, felt indebted to Smollett for helping him with his acting career.

The actor is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report — one count for each time he gave a report to three different officers.

The class-four felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted, he probably will be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.

Smollett’s lawyer says he was a “real victim” and that the brothers’ accounts are unreliable.

Mr Osundairo said that a few days before the attack, Smollett showed him some hate mail he said he had received at the Empire studio.

Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
Jussie Smollett: man says actor recruited him and brother to fake attack
‘Empire’ TV series actor Jussie Smollett emerges from the Cook County Court complex after posting 10 per cent of a $100,000 bond. EPA/TANNEN MAURY Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men. AP The men were said to have hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck. Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP Smollett was led through the crowd of waiting media flanked by bodyguards. AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski Smollett appeared somber as he made his way to a waiting car. REUTERS/Joshua Lott Smollett is said to have headed straight to the set of ‘Empire’ following his court appearance. REUTERS/Joshua Lott Smollett is seen walking with police with his hands in his pockets. EPA/TANNEN MAURY 20th Century Fox, which makes ‘Empire’, is said to be “considering its options”. EPA/TANNEN MAURY Members of Smollett’s family were present for his court appearance. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Jurors viewed the note, which included a drawing of a person hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at the stick figure and the letters “MAGA” — an apparent reference to former president Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again”.

He said that a few days later, Smollett had sent him a text message asking to meet privately. Mr Osundairo said when they met, Smollett asked him “to beat him up” and asked if his brother could help.

“I was confused, I look puzzled,” Mr Osundairo said. “He explained he wanted me to fake beat him up.”

Mr Osundairo said that before the staged attack, Smollett drove the brothers to the spot where the attack would occur, and they decided the men should throw bleach on Smollett rather than the original plan to use petrol. He also said Smollett said a camera in the area would record the attack.

“He wanted a camera to catch it,” Mr Osundairo said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Chicago police detective gave evidence that Smollett appeared troubled when he was told that a surveillance camera did not record the reported assault.

Chicago police detective Kimberly Murray said she interviewed the actor the morning of the attack and that he told her he had been assaulted by two men — one white and wearing a ski mask, the other he could not see — as he was returning home after buying a sandwich.

Ms Murray also said Smollett told her he had received a threatening phone call days earlier, but he refused to hand over his mobile phone, which the detective said could help police piece together a timeline of what happened, and he would not consent to giving medical records or a DNA swab.

She said Smollett was “upset” when she told him a surveillance camera in the area did not capture the attack because it was pointed away from the scene. Ms Murray said she explained to the actor that the cover on the pod camera makes it impossible to know which way it is pointing.

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