Whaleoil transcript: The facts about the Jussie Smollett hoax ‘hate crime’

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Statement was made by Risa Lanier – Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau for the Cook County State Attorney?s Office

The defendant, Jussie Smollett is a singer and songwriter who currently appears as a character on the Fox television show Empire.

Defendant Smollett currently resides in an apartment in the Chicago Streeterville neighbourhood.

The people expect the evidence to show that on Tuesday January 22nd 2019 defendant Smollett received a written letter at the since based Chicago film studio, which is the facility on the south-west side of Chicago where the Empire television show is filmed.

This letter contained written threats directed towards defendant Smollett and contained a then unknown white powdery substance. The letter also contained cut-out letters pieced together which stated ?Smollett Jessie you will die black F? and the letters MAGA was hand written on the envelope where the return address typically is located.

This powdery substance has since been determined to be crushed ibuprofen tablets.

The letter also contained a drawing of a stick figure, which appears to have a rope around the neck and a gun pointed towards it.

Law enforcement authorities were contacted and the letter was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is currently conducting forensic analysis of the letter.

In January of 2019 and at all times relevant hereto defendant Smollett was close friends with an individual by the name of Abimbola (Abil) Osundairo, who is 25 years old. Smollett and Abil initiated their friendship in the fall of 2017. During the course of this friendship defendant Smollett and Abil socialised together, exercised together, as well as worked on the Fox television series Empire.

Within that working relationship Abil was a stand-in for a character named Kai who is a love interest of defendant Smollett?s character on the Empire tv show.

Additionally, text messages between defendant Smollett and Abil revealed that Abil was a source of designer drugs for defendant Smollett. Specifically, since the spring of 2018 and on several occasions? defendant Smollett requested Abil to provide him with ?molly? which is street name for the narcotic ecstasy.

Text messages generated by defendant Smollett to Abil specifically starting on the morning of January 25th 2019 revealed defendant Smollett asking Abil when he would be leaving on his trip to Nigeria. This trip was scheduled to take place on the evening of January 29th of 2019 and it had been planned by Abil and his brother Olabinjo (Ola) Osundairo, who is 27 years old, two months prior.

After Abil confirmed the date and time of his trip defendant Smollett texted Abil stating ?might need your help on the low, you around to meet up to talk face to face??

The two then made arrangements to meet at the since-based studios that afternoon, where defendant Smollett subsequently drove Abil home to Abil?s apartment in the Lakeview neighbourhood.

During the ride Smollett indicated to Abil his displeasure that the studios? other Empire studios handling of the racist homophobic letter he received three days prior.

Defendant Smollett then stated that he wanted to stage an attack where Abil would appear to batter him. Defendant Smollett also suggested that Abil?s older brother Ola assist him with the attack. Defendant Smollett had met Ola on several previous occasions through Abil.

Additionally, Ola had appeared as an extra on the Empire tv show.

Abil and Ola are both dark skinned black males born in the United States with Nigerian descent.

When defendant Smollett and Abil reached Abil?s apartment at approximately 5pm on January 25th 2019 Ola, who was then living with Abil, was summoned into defendant Smollett?s vehicle. Once inside Smollett asked Ola if he could trust him. When Ola said he could, Smollett detailed his plans of the attack to the brothers.

Smollett stated that he wanted them to appear to attack him on the evening of January 28 2019 near his apartment building in Street Ville.

Defendant Smollett also stated he wanted the brothers to catch his attention by calling him an Empire ?F? Empire ?N?.

Defendant Smollett further detailed that he wanted Abil to attack him but not hurt him too badly and to give him a chance to appear to fight back.

Defendant Smollett also included that he wanted Ola to place a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him and yell ?this is MAGA country?.

Prior to the brothers getting out of Smollett?s car, Smollett provided Abil with a $100 bill to purchase the rope, gasoline, ski mask, gloves and the red baseball caps which resemble the ones which say ?make America great again?.

The ride from Sunscape Studios to the Osundairo brothers? home and the meeting between Smollett and the brothers is corroborated by CPD pod videos and cellular phone tower data of Smollett?s phone number.

On the late morning of Sunday January 27 2019 Smollett drove his vehicle back to the Lakeview neighbourhood to pick up the brothers and show them the scene where he wanted the staged attack to take place.

Smollett then drove the brothers to the corner of New Street and North water Street in Chicago where the staged attack was to take place. This was just outside of Smollett?s apartment building. Further details were provided by Smollett which included that the staged attack was to take place near the stairs on the south west corner of New and North water streets at 10pm on the following night. Smollett also instructed the brothers not to bring their cell phones with them. Smollett directed the brother?s attention towards a surveillance camera on the corner which he believed would capture the incident.

There was a change in the plan in that bleach was going to be used instead of gasoline during the simulated attack.

Smollett then drove the brother?s home and provided them with a $3,500 personal cheque made payable to Abil which was backdated to January 23 of 2019.

On the morning of January 28 2019, the date of the planned attack, the brothers purchased the clothing items at a local beauty supply store and the rope at a nearby hardware store using the $100 bill that Smollett had given them.

These purchases were corroborated by surveillance video and a receipt. Abil also deposited Smollett?s cheque that same in his own bank account.

Later that evening the plan had changed and the time of the attack had to be pushed back because Smollett?s flight into O?Hare Airport from New York had been delayed by four hours.

Smollett?s plane eventually landed at O?Hare at 12:30am on January 29 of 2019. At 12:49am there is a phone call between Smollett and Abil which lasted three minutes. During this call Smollett told Abil the attack would take place at exactly 2am at the location. Minutes later Ola ordered an Uber ride-share to his home to leave for the crime scene. Cell phone records and Uber records confirmed this call and the Uber ride.

The brothers then took the Uber to the 1400 block of North Wells where they exited the Uber and flagged down a taxi which took them to within three blocks of the arranged scene at approximately 1:22am. The taxi?s in-car video captures the brother? the brothers flagging the cab and riding in the back seat.

From approximately 1:22am until approximately 2:03am video evidence showed the brothers on foot and in the area bordered by Lakeshore Drive to the east, Columbus Drive to the west, Illinois to the north and Chicago? Chicago river to the south.

Video evidence also showed that Smollett returned back to his apartment from the airport at approximately 1:30am.

At 1:45am Smollett left his building to walk to a nearby Subway restaurant at Illinois and McClure Court. At 2am the brothers were at the intersection of New Street and North Water Street however defendant Smollett did not arrive at the pre-set time. 

The brothers then proceeded a quarter block north and waited near a bench until Smollett arrived, which was four minutes later. Surveillance cameras captured the brothers waiting at this location just prior to the staged attack.

During Smollett?s interview on ABC?s Good Morning America, which aired on February 14th of 2019, he identified the people shown in the still of that surveillance video as his attackers. Also, during that interview Smollett indicated he was positive these were his attackers. The two men in this video are in fact the Osundairo brothers.

It was at this time that the brothers staged the attack of defendant Smollett just how Smollett had instructed them. While the staged attack was occurring a witness, who is an employee of NBC News Chicago, had just parked and exited her vehicle around the corner from the location of the staged attack. This witness indicated that she heard nothing at the time of the staged attack despite the fact that defendant Smollett told CPD detectives that his attackers were yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, and he in turn was yelling back at them.

The staged attack lasted 45 seconds and it was just outside the view of the desired nearby camera that Smollett had pointed out to the brothers approximately 15 hours earlier. Approximately one minute later, video evidence showed the brothers run from the location south bound toward the Chicago river, and west bound toward Columbus Drive.

Video evidence also captures the brothers entering a taxi at the Hyatt Regency Hotel across the river at 2:10am. Video evidence then showed at 2:25am the brothers exited the taxi on the 3600 block of north Marshfield Avenue and walked north bound. This was only a few blocks from the brothers Lakeview apartment which was also the brothers original Uber pick up location to the staged crime scene. Video shows the brothers walking from where they were dropped off towards their home.

Two minutes after the brothers exited the taxi, at 2:27am, defendant?s manager called the police to report the incident. At approximately 2:42am Chicago police arrived at Smollett?s apartment. Chicago police observed that Smollett had a rope draped around his neck. This was captured on police body-worn camera. Seconds later Smollett asked the police to shut off their cameras. Smollett then made a police report where he claimed he was the victim of an attack in which the offenders struck him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs. Smollett also reported that the offenders placed a rope around his neck, poured a liquid chemical on him and told him ?this is MAGA country?.

Defendant Smollett also reported for the first time that three days prior, on January 26 2019, he received a phone call from an unidentified phone number in which an unidentified male caller stated ?hey you little F? before ending the call.

Smollett also told police that the incident happened near a camera which he stated should have captured the attack. This is the same camera that Smollett pointed out to the Osundairo brothers in preparation of this staged attack.

Smollett also told the police that the initial and primary attacker now known to be Abil Osundairo was wearing a ski mask which covered his entire face with the exception of his eyes and the area all around his eyes. As stated earlier, the Osundairo brothers are dark skinned male blacks. During the Good Morning America interview Smollett stated ?and it feels like, if I had said I was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more, a lot more?.  These statements by Smollett further mislead the police and the public to believe his attackers were white.

On January 29 2019 at 7:45pm, just less than 18 hours following the reported attack, defendant Smollett placed a phone call to Abil and the duration of the call was five seconds. Two minutes later Abil call back Smollett and that call lasted one minute 34 seconds. The brothers then boarded their flight to Nigeria and left the country.

On January 30th 2019 at 10:46am defendant Smollett called Abil who was in Istanbul, Turkey, and the duration of that call lasted 8 minutes and 48 seconds.

For the next two weeks Chicago Police Department investigated this matter as a hate crime. The Chicago police were able to identify the Osundairo brothers as the alleged attackers through an extensive investigation using surveillance videos, pod police videos, in-car taxi videos, ride-share records, credit card records, bank records and a store receipt.

On February 13th of 2019 the brothers returned from Nigeria and landed at the Chicago O?Hare international airport and they were detained by US Customs. Members of the Chicago Police Department placed them into custody. That same evening the Chicago police executed a search warrant upon the Osundairo brother?s residence where they recovered evidence that linked Abil to the Empire tv show. The police had already determined that Ola was affiliated with the show. Following their arrest and through consultation with their attorneys the brothers agreed to cooperate in the investigation.

As more evidence such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, this investigation shifted from a hate crime to disorderly conduct. The Cook County state?s office approved charges yesterday at 6:10pm and at 5am this morning defendant Smollett was placed into custody at the area central police headquarters.

Statement Ends.