The brothers who claim they were paid by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to stage a racist, homophobic attack against him said in a new statement on Thursday that they will now testify against him after announcing their decision not to just one day earlier.
Brothers Abel and Ola Osundario were thrust into the public eye in 2019 when they told the police that the actor had paid them $3,500 to jump him on a Chicago street in an effort to raise his profile because he was unhappy with his role on the Fox drama.
“Yesterday’s decision to voluntarily stop cooperating in the prosecution of Jussie Smollett has nothing to do with the veracity of the statements made to police and prosecutors by Abimnola (‘Abel’) and Olabinjo (‘Ola’) Osundairo,” their attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez told Fox News on Thursday. “The brothers have consistently stood by their statements and testimony and continue to tell the truth about their involvement.”
Brothers Abel and Ola Osundario will testify against Jussie Smollett.
According to Rodriguez, her clients decided to “cease voluntary cooperation” after a “properly registered 9mm handgun” seized by the Chicago Police Department in February 2019 was not returned to them. The missing property as well as “the unnecessary complication brought to this situation by CPD’s Corporate Counsel in treating them like suspects” was why they would not testify.
However, the brothers will “recommence their cooperation in the Smollett case now that the handgun has been produced.”
Rodriguez said in an interview with CBS 2 in Chicago on Wednesday that her clients were unwilling to testify.
“It’s been over a year and they need to give us our stuff back,” Abel Osundairo told the outlet.
He added: “I would understand if we were defendants in the case, which we are not.”
Smollett, 38, was initially accused by Cook County prosecutors of falsely reporting to police that the alleged phony attack was real. Sixteen counts of disorderly conduct originally filed against him were dismissed and Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin found Smollett’s first prosecution was invalid.
After another investigation by special prosecutor Dan Webb, six counts of the same charges were filed against Smollett, to which he pleaded not guilty earlier this year.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police at the time of the alleged attack that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He said they made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing, and that at least one of his attackers was a white man who told him he was in “MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy and Matt Finn contributed to this report.