The two Nigerian brothers who claimed Jussie Smollett paid them to stage an attack against the actor are now reportedly unwilling to testify him in court.
Chicago police say Abel Osundario and his brother, Ola, were paid $3,500 to pretend to beat Smollett in January 2019 in what the actor claimed was a racist and homophobic attack.
Initially, the pair told police they would cooperate fully and and testify against the former “Empire” star. But then their lawyer told Chicago’s CBS affiliate on Wednesday “that they’ve had a change of heart,” The New York Post reported.
Attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez said the two have flipped because they feel as if police are still treating them as suspects and are withholding possessions they had taken from them during a February 2019 raid of their home.
“It’s been over a year and they need to give us our stuff back,” said Abel Osundairo told the station. “I would understand if we were defendants in the case, which we are not,” he added.
During the Valentine’s Day sweep, cops swiped among other possessions a safe containing a 9mm gun and ammunition that belongs to Abel, a legal gun owner, the station reported. An administrative battle over the possessions has ensued, with Schmidt Rodriguez filing a court motion for the return of their belongings.
Chicago Police told the outlet the handgun is being preserved as evidence in an evidence locker and that the department would cooperate with any court order should the judge rule to have the items returned.
The brothers were held by police and interrogated soon after the alleged attack took place in January, but they were quickly released as police shifted their attention to Smollett’s involvement in allegedly staging the attack.
The actor told police that the main attacker “was wearing a ski mask that covered his entire face, with the exception of the area around his eyes, by which [Smollett] could tell the attacker was white-skinned,” according to a lawsuit against Smollett filed by the city of Chicago. Smollettt, who is black, allegedly hired the brothers, who also are black, to attack him in a hate hoax crime.
To bolster his claim that the attackers were white, Smollett said the two men yelled racist and homophobic remarks, at one point invoking President Trump’s signature slogan, “Make America Great Again” by saying, “This is MAGA country.”
That story quickly fell apart.
A Chicago grand jury indicted Smollett in March on 16 felony counts that he allegedly lied to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Those charges came after he was arrested in February and charged with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false police report. The charges were later dropped, but have been reinstated.