In what will likely be a pivotal moment in the Jussie Smollett trial, Abimbola Osundairo took the stand to describe to the jury how he helped the former “Empire” actor stage a hate crime hoax early in 2019. He explained that he took part in the alleged farce because he believed Smollett could help Osundairo boost his career.
The New York Post reported:
Abimbola Osundairo, 28, told jurors in Chicago’s criminal court on day three of the trial how Smollett directed nearly every aspect of the alleged fake attack, from the racial and homophobic slurs he and his brother, Olabinjo, were to use down to who should throw the punches.
“He explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up,” Osundairo testified.
Osundairo stated that he agreed to help Smollet because he “felt indebted to him” and because “[Smollett] also got [Osundairo] a stand-in role on ‘Empire’ and I also believed that he could help further my acting career.”
From the Post:
Osundairo and his brother are at the center of the sensational long-awaited trial as the prosecution’s star witnesses. About two weeks after Smollett told police he was the victim of a vicious hate crime on a frigid night in January 2019, the brothers were arrested but confessed the actor paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. Smollett’s team vigorously denies the allegation and claims the men intended to attack him, potentially because they’re homophobic.
The actor has been charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to law enforcement. If convicted, he could face up to three years in jail.
Osundairo recounted how he met Smollett through a mutual friend in 2017 and how they “became extremely close as they spent time together smoking weed, visiting strip clubs and having sleepovers at the star’s Streeterville high-rise,” according to the Post.
“I would call him my brother,” Osundairo said.
The young man testified that Smollett’s alleged plot began to take shape after he received a text message from the actor asking for his assistance “on the low” and suggesting they meet in person to discuss the matter.
Osundairo said Smollett picked him up later in the afternoon and asked if he “could trust” him. He complained about Fox’s lackluster reaction to a piece of hate mail he allegedly received which showed a stick figure hanging and the words “[y]ou will die black f*g.”
“He talked about how the studio was not taking the mail seriously, the hate mail he’d received earlier,” Osundairo recalled. “I was confused, I looked puzzled and then he explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up.”
The actor also asked if Osundairo’s brother would be willing to help carry out the scheme. “He first told the brothers the specific words he wanted them to use — ‘Empire’, f—-t, n—-r, MAGA’ — and then gave blow-by-blow instructions,” according to the Post.
“He wanted me to punch him but he wanted me to pull the punch so I didn’t hurt him and then he wanted me to tussle him and throw him to the ground and give him a bruise,” Osundairo recounted.
“Then he wanted it to look like he was fighting back, so I was supposed to give him a chance to fight back and then eventually throw him to the ground and my brother would tie the noose around his neck and pour bleach on him.”
On the day before the alleged hoax was to be carried out, Smollett picked up the Osundairo brothers and took them to his neighborhood to show them exactly where he wanted the fake attack to take place. “He said that there was going to be a camera to capture the fake attack, that he wanted a camera to capture the fake attack,” Osundairo told the jury.
When special prosecutor Dan Webb asked why Smollett wanted there to be video footage of the hoax, Osundairo said the actor “wanted to use the camera footage for media.”
The Post noted:
When the plan was finally carried out around 2 a.m. on January 29, 2019, the camera Smollett hoped would capture the attack was pointed in another direction but just about everything else went according to plan. The brothers delivered their lines, roughed Smollett up and fled the area, only to be arrested a little over two weeks later.
The Associated Press gave more detail about the alleged plan:
Osundairo told jurors Smollett instructed him to punch Smollett but “not too hard.” Once Smollett was on the ground, Osundairo said Smollett said he should give Smollett “a bruise” and “give him a noogie” — or rub his knuckles hard on Smollett’s head.
When the brothers saw Smollett around 2 a.m., they did as the actor instructed and yelled homophobic slurs and shouted “this is MAGA country!” as they carried out the fake assault.
This testimony will likely be the silver bullet for the prosecution. The defense is arguing that the Osundairo brothers had some type of vendetta against Smollett, so they disguised themselves as MAGA supporters to avoid detection after they assaulted the actor.
However, the fact that Smollett sent a payment for $3,500 to the brothers shortly before the attack will probably make it quite difficult to convince a jury that these men did not carry out the assault at the behest of the actor. But the trial isn’t over yet, so perhaps anything can happen.