Cops Identify Suspects In Jussie Smollett Case; Criminal Charges Expected Friday
2 brothers from Nigeria will be charged in the alleged hate crime against actor and singer Jussie Smollett, 36.
The Empire star claims he was attacked by 2 Trump supporters with a rope and bleach. The men shouted racial and homophobic slurs as he left a Subway restaurant around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29.
According to CWBChicago.com, police have identified the 2 people as Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and his brother Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo.
Criminal charges are expected to be filed against the Osundairo brothers by 5:45 p.m. Friday. Cops can only detain suspects for 48 hours if they have reason to believe a crime was committed.
The 2 brothers were taken into custody on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport shortly after they arrived on a flight from Africa.
The Osundairo brothers are residents of Lakeview. They reportedly worked as extras on the Chicago set of FOX’s Empire musical, starring Smollett.
@CWBChicago tweeted an undated photo of director Lee Daniels posing with the muscular brothers on the Empire set.
According to police sources, cops linked the brothers to Smollett and Daniels through phone records.
There are unconfirmed reports that investigators believe Daniels paid the airfare for the brothers to flee Chicago hours after the alleged attack on Smollett.
Also, according to published reports, one of the brothers was involved in a sexual relationship with Smollett, who has a steady boyfriend in Los Angeles.
The brothers were known suspects to Chicago PD for at least a week. Police linked them to Smollett – even as detectives claimed Smollett was a victim and not under investigation.
Days after the alleged hate crime attack on Smollett, police released dark images of 2 persons of interest walking away from the scene of the alleged attack.
Smollett later confirmed the 2 persons of interest in the surveillance image were the men who attacked him.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that that’s them. Never did,” he told Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts.
He did not indicate to Roberts or police that he knew the people who attacked him.
Police identified the brothers through good old fashioned detective legwork. They contacted rideshare companies and taxi services to ID passengers who were dropped off or picked up in the area of the attack.
Investigators subpoenaed Smollett’s phone records via his wireless carrier – then tricked him into providing his own phone records to compare. Detectives focused in on the numbers he deleted from his phone records.
In an exclusive interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America that aired on Thursday Smollett said he didn’t turn over his phone to detectives to protect the privacy of his high-profile contacts.
But authorities theorize the actor redacted his phone records because he was desperate to conceal his communications with the brothers that night.
Investigators were forced to execute a no-knock warrant on the brothers’ Lakeview home earlier than they had planned on Thursday after TMZ and local Chicago news stations leaked details of the brothers’ arrests at the airport.
A female relative of the brothers who was home at the time of the raid said officers took the door off the hinges and ransacked the place.
She said she feared for her life as officers tore the home apart and asked her if the brothers knew Smollett.
As rumors swept social media that Smollett staged the attack, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson took the unusual step of contacting @ABC7Chicago to dispute information that was leaked by his own officers as “unconfirmed”, “uninformed” and “inaccurate”, rather than outright wrong.
A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment also contacted @ABC7chicago to say “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
By late Thursday night, Smollett had scrubbed every tweet and Instagram post he made describing his attackers as MAGA cap-wearing Trump supporters.