The ‘Empire’ star repeatedly asked the Osundairo brothers to help him find drugs before asking them to meet up and ‘talk face to face,’ police say.
May. 31, 2019 7:18 AM ET / May. 30, 2019 8:42PM ET
CHICAGO—The Chicago Police Department released hundreds of documents from the Jussie Smollett case on Thursday, including text messages that suggest the Empire star discussed drugs with two brothers who later said he hired them to carry out a hate-crime hoax attack.
“Nigga, you still got a molly connect?” Smollett texted Abimbola Osundairo in September, according to the case report. “Hahahaha… Imma need a good fo pills Haha.”
Police said there were numerous similar conversations in which Smollett asked Osundairo to find him drugs, including ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine and used Venmo and Paypal to pay for the transactions.
But in January, according to the documents, Smollett’s conversations with the brothers, who had worked as extras on Empire, took a turn.
“Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?” he texted them.
Video and GPS evidence show that Smollett picked one brother up from the Empire studio and drove to their apartment on the North Side, about one mile northwest from Wrigley Field, authorities say.
After explaining the plan that day, police say, Smollett picked both men up the next morning to conduct a dry run. He gave them a check for $3,500 and wrote in the memo: “5 week nutrition/workout program.”
He allegedly instructed them to yell “Empire Faggot” and “Empire Nigger.” The plan, according to the case file, was that he would respond, “What did you say?” before they pummelled him. According to police, Smollett only wanted Olabinjo Osundairo to punch him because he didn’t trust the other brother, and Olabinjo rubbed his knuckles into Smollett’s face to make it look bruised.
Records of interviews with Smollett immediately following the attack and in subsequent weeks say his story changes over time. On Jan. 29, the night of the incident, Smollett, who is gay, told police that one of his attackers was white, had belittled his race and sexual orientation, and had yelled “This is MAGA country,” police said. But during a Feb. 14 interview with police, Smollett denied saying the attacker was white and said he only “assumed they were white due to the comments that were made.”
When police told Smollett that both Osundairo brothers were in custody for the attack, he expressed disbelief, in part because of their skin color. “They are black as sin,” he said, according to police. “We don’t have any issues. They are straight so we don’t have any problems with women or men. They did not owe me any money, I don’t owe them any money. We have a good relationship.”
The newly released files also reveal that early in the investigation, Smollett declined to look at a photo line-up of potential suspects. He also refused to turn over his phone and submit to a buccal swab test that would eliminate his DNA from the rope he said was placed around his neck.
He initially told police that he was talking with his manager before the attack, but when phone records showed he was also talking with one of the brothers, he admitted he was scheduling a training session because he needed to get “shredded” for an upcoming video shoot, the documents say.
Smollett’s attorney, Mark Geragos, did not respond to a request for comment, but the actor has repeatedly said he is not guilty of the allegation he orchestrated a hoax. James Tunick, who represents the brothers, said he could not comment because his clients are suing Geragos for defamation.
“But everything will come out,” he said.
The city of Chicago is currently suing Smollett to recoup $130,000 in overtime money spent to investigate his claim.
In addition, a former Illinois appellate judge is petitioning to have a special prosecutor review the handling of the case by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx who has been criticized for dropping all 16 charges against Smollett.
In March, news reports revealed that Foxx received emails and texts from Tina Tchen, an attorney friend of the Smollett family and chief of staff to Michelle Obama, who told Foxx she had “concerns about the investigation” and that Foxx also exchanged emails with a member of Smollett’s family. An internal email obtained by local media show that Foxx’s office actively tried to find comparable cases where misdemeanor charges were dropped by her office.
At the time, then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted Foxx, calling the deal a “whitewash” and adding “it doesn’t add up.”