A lawyer for the two men who allegedly participated in an attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett says the brothers have “tremendous regret” about participating in what Chicago police have characterized as an incdent staged by the actor.
“They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” attorney Gloria Schmidt told CNN about the remorse felt by her clients, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
After initially investigating the incident as a hate crime, Chicago police arrested Smollett last week and charged the singer/actor with a felony charge of disorderly conduct for what they said was the false claim that the men attacked him physically, put a noose-like rope around his neck and hurled racial and homophobic epithets at him during the alleged Jan. 29 incident. Smollett reportedly paid the brothers $3,500 to particpate in the attack, which Chicago’s police superintendent Eddie Johnson said was orchestrated by Smollett because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the long-running Fox musical drama.
The brothers are now cooperating with the Chicago PD’s investigation and are no longer considered suspects in the case following their brief arrest last month. A spokesperson for Smollett’s legal team could not be reached for comment at press time; Smollett’s spokespeople have vehemently denied that the attack was staged. Following the actor’s arrest and release on bail, Empire producers announced last week that Smollett would be written out of the upcoming season’s final two episodes.
Given the racial and homophobic overtones of the alleged incident, the news that Smollett may have fabricated a hate crime for his own purposes met with swift rebuke last week. Among those taking the actor to task was Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young White, who said joked about the bizarre nature of the alleged crime while making a more serious point about how hurtful, and potentially dangerous, it is to the LGBTQ community.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) February 20, 2019
Way to go Jussie. You just handed this racist dipshit a “Get Out Of Race-Baiting Free” card that he’s gonna wave around like a soiled diaper until he’s re-elected. https://t.co/JTlg6JYSkP
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 21, 2019
My head is exploding this morning. I have to get off Twitter. This story is pathetic. All of it.
— Andy Cohen (@Andy) February 21, 2019