Over the course of three weeks, the Chicago Police Department systematically dissected “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s dubious story of a racist and homophobic beatdown in the middle of the night.
A good portion of the credit must be appropriated to the dozens of private, business and city-owned security cameras that helped peel back Smollett’s shaky story like the skin off of fried chicken.
Investigators tell the media that they were suspicious of Smollett’s story right from the jump. But they kept up the facade that Smollett was a victim in order to keep Smollett from being alarmed and contacting the co-conspirators.
On January 29, 2018, Smollett said two men beat him up, threw a rope around his neck in the manner of a noose and poured a corrosive product over him, most presumably bleach. He also said the men yelled, “This is MAGA Country,” which recalls Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.
The investigation took an unexpected detour when officers identified two Nigerian-born brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, as persons of interest. When cops arrested the pair on February 13 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after returning from West Africa, officers said what the Osundairo brothers admitted to changed the “trajectory” of the investigation.
The Chicago Tribune said police counted 55 city, business and doorbell cameras that filmed snippets of the Osundairo brothers’ movements as they entered and retreated from the crime scene.
Most famously, police initially only had a grainy video that only revealed a silhouette of two men. But that simple, blurry image was the tiny piece of evidence that cracked the case wide open.
Strike one against Smollett.
The footage was just clear enough for the investigators to get the license plate number of the cab they hailed. That cab had a security camera inside the taxi that clearly showed the brothers’ faces.
Strike two against Smollett.
The Tribune said that cab delivered the brothers several miles away to the city’s North Side. They “abruptly stopped the cab” and began walking.
The newspaper later said the brothers then caught another taxi, which was also captured on camera. This cab let them out at their home, so police knew where the two lived and were later able to obtain a warrant to search the contents of their place.
At first, the Osundairo brothers refused to talk. But when officers threatened to charge them with a hate crime and told them the years they could get in prison, the brothers began squawking like parrots.
Strike three against Smollett.
Abel Osundairo, 25, identified Smollett as a close friend; he claimed to be Smollett’s personal trainer who also provided the actor with the club drug Ecstasy. Both brothers had worked as extras on the set of “Empire” and were paid $3500 to stage the Smollett-inspired hoax.
Speaking of drugs, the “Empire” star told police upon his arrest that he has a drug problem, which may be used as a way to mitigate the circumstances and possibly reduce his sentence, TMZ reported.