The two brothers at the heart of the Jussie Smollett hate crime saga are walking back their decision to not testify against the disgraced actor, saying Thursday they plan to continue to cooperate with investigators.
Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who claim Smollett paid them to stage a hate crime, announced late Wednesday the Chicago Police Department couldn’t locate belongings seized during a 2019 raid and for that reason, they were no longer willing to help investigators.
Their lawyer, Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, released a statement on their behalf Thursday afternoon saying they’ve had a change of heart now that the belongings have been found.
“Due to the intervention of Special Prosecutor Dan Webb and his team, earlier today we were informed that a properly registered 9mm handgun that was missing from a locked safe seized by the Chicago Police Department on February 14, 2019, has been located,” Schmidt Rodriguez’s statement reads.
“The missing gun was a reason for Abel and Ola’s decision to cease voluntary cooperation, in addition to the unnecessary complication brought to this situation by CPD’s Corporate Counsel in treating them like suspects. Abel and Ola will recommence their cooperation in the Smollett case now that the handgun has been produced by the Special Prosecutor’s office.”
Last winter, CPD investigators zeroed in on Abel and Ola as the two primary suspects wanted in connection with a hate crime Smollett allegedly endured.
When the two brothers were questioned, they told investigators they were friends with Smollett and he’d asked the brothers to help him stage a hate crime because he was dissatisfied with his treatment on the set of Fox’s hit show “Empire,” where Smollett played a supporting role.
Prior to the brother’s testimony, their home had been raided and they’d been treated like suspects until CPD detectives turned the case against Smollett and decided not to bring any charges against the brothers.
For “more than a year,” the brothers have been trying to get back the items seized during the raid and on June 5, Abel filed a motion with the court requesting to inspect all of the items that were seized, their lawyer said.
Judge Richard Linn granted the request but during the inspection, Abel realized his legally owned handgun, along with ammunition, was missing, Schmidt Rodriguez said.
“Despite the Brothers making themselves continually available to CPD, CPD’s Corporate Counsel, and the Special Prosecutor’s office, 24 hours after it was discovered that the handgun was missing, CPD’s Corporate Counsel’s office sent an email directly to Abel essentially blaming him for not including the second search warrant for the gun in his motion and refusing to produce the gun for inspection on that basis,” the brothers’ lawyer wrote in a statement.
“Abel and Ola believe that the CPD’s Corporate Counsel concocted this excuse to distract away from the fact that the police could not produce the handgun on June 23. Simply stated, the inability of the CPD’s Corporate Counsel to facilitate the logistics of getting all parties to inspect all of the property seized caused Abel and Ola Osundairo to feel alienated and uncomfortable with the lack of transparency in this process.”
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed to re-investigate Smollett, intervened and was able to get the handgun produced.
“The Osundairo Brothers at no time lost any faith in the Special Prosecutor’s case against Mr. Smollett and have been vocal that their grievance was squarely with the CPD and their Corporate Counsel. Abel and Ola Osundairo continue to stand 100 percent by their earlier statements and testimony about their involvement in the staged attack and, thanks to the issue being resolved today, will continue working cooperatively with Special Prosecutor Dan Webb and his team.”
Smollett was arrested last winter on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report but the charges were suddenly dropped against him in March after he agreed to forfeit a $10,000 bond without admitting wrongdoing.
Judge Michael Toomin later ruled the case, and the decision to drop it, was null after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx committed a series of ethical blunders. Toomin appointed Webb to bring a new probe against the actor and in February this year, six new felony charges against the actor were announced.
Smollett has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.
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