Abel and Ola Osundairo are walking back promises made by their attorney that they would testify against actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly faking a hate crime last year.
The Osundairo brothers now say they will not willingly cooperate with police until officials stop treating them like suspects in a crime even though the brothers are not facing any charges. The Osundairos say that police have yet to return items taken during a February 2019 raid on the brothers’ home, according to CBS Chicago.
“It’s been over a year and they need to give us our stuff back,” Abel Osundairo told CBS. “I would understand if we were defendants in the case, which we are not.”
Police raided the Osundairos’ home on Valentine’s Day last year while the brothers were in Nigeria. At the time, the brothers were suspected of launching a racist and homophobic attack on Smollett. Police later dropped charges against the brothers and now say that the actor paid each brother $3,500 to stage the incident.
Police are holding the Osundairos’ items seized in the raid as evidence in Smollett’s upcoming trial, though the police have said they will return the items if ordered to by a judge. The items include a 9mm gun and ammunition legally owned by Abel Osundairo. The brothers filed a police report on Wednesday and, with their attorney, are in talks with the police to get the items returned, specifically the gun and ammo.
“Legally, it belongs to me, and I want to know its whereabouts,” Abel said.
Smollett is facing charges on six counts of disturbing the peace and filing false police reports. His court hearing has been postponed due to coronavirus-related shutdowns of the court system. The former “Empire” actor was originally charged with 16 counts, though the Cook County prosecutor’s officer abruptly dropped the charges after working out an unofficial plea deal in which Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and perform about 16 hours of community service.
The deal sparked backlash among Chicago’s law enforcement community, and the city sued Smollett in April for $130,000 in wasted time and effort by the police and other city employees investigating the alleged hoax. Smollett has continued to assert he is innocent of the charges.
Smollett reported a hate crime against him in January 2019, alleging two men had ambushed him in downtown Chicago at 2 a.m. The Chicago police nabbed the Osundairo brothers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 13, announcing that they had caught two men suspected of attacking Smollett.
Two days later, Chicago Police Department communications chief Anthony Guglielmi announced that, “Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” referring to the Osundairo brothers. The brothers had agreed to work with police in and testify against Smollett until recently.
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