Attorneys affirmed the brothers ‘led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett’…
(Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune) Two brothers who allege Jussie Smollett paid them to stage an attack on the “Empire” actor filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Smollett’s attorneys, saying the high-profile legal team smeared them by insisting that the brothers, in fact, attacked the actor.
Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo testified before a grand jury that they helped Smollett orchestrate the attack.
Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, but those charges were unexpectedly dropped last month by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.
After the dismissal, the suit alleged, Smollett’s attorneys “doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that … (the brothers) unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.”
The allegations have cost the brothers some business opportunities, the suit alleged, and Smollett’s Los Angeles-based celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, in particular, made them “feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community.”
Smollett, who is African-American and gay, found himself at the center of an international media firestorm after he reported being the victim of a Jan. 29 attack by two people who shouted the slurs, hit him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Police initially treated the incident as a hate crime, but their focus turned to Smollett after the Osundairo brothers who were alleged to have been his attackers told detectives that Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with a promise of an additional $500 later.
In a stunning about-face last month, however, Foxx’s office dropped the 16-count indictment against Smollett at an unannounced court hearing on March 26.
The move to drop charges — which blindsided police brass and even Mayor Rahm Emanuel — has provoked fierce criticism.
Emanuel’s administration has sued to try to force Smollett to reimburse Chicago for the more than $130,000 in police overtime spent investigating the alleged hoax even though the charges were dropped.
Foxx has faced pressure to explain in more detail why the prosecution of Smollett was so quickly abandoned. In an op-ed in the Tribune, she backed off her office’s initial stance that the case was strong, writing that they were uncertain of a conviction, but she offered no specifics.
At her request, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard agreed earlier this month to investigate the office’s handling of the Smollett case.
Thousands of text messages and emails released last week showed that the office was largely caught flat-footed by the massive response from the news media to its own stunning reversal.
Texts between top-level prosecutors and its communications office show a scramble to coordinate their messaging and futilely try to tamp down the heated controversy.
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