Two Nigerian brothers at the center of the Jussie Smollett incident have issued an apology for their roles in what police have said was a faked attack.
Smollett, a gay black actor who has starred in the show “Empire,” claimed that on Jan. 29 he was assaulted by two men who insulted him with racial and homophobic slurs before putting a noose around his neck.
Police could find no evidence of the attack, and last month charged Smollett with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were at one time considered suspects in the attack the Smollett, but they later told police they had been paid $3,500 by the actor to stage the attack.
Their attorney this week issued their first public comments since Smollett was charged.
“My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation,” attorney Gloria Schmidt said in a statement, according to People.
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“They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” Schmidt said.
During a court hearing for Smollett, text messages between Smollett and the Osundairo brothers were read allegedly outlining how the 45-second attack was to be orchestrated.
Surveillance video was later found that showed the brothers buying supplies used in the attack, CBS reported.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said last month that the attack “was staged, the brothers had on gloves during the ‘staged attack’ where they punched him a little, but as far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on (Smollett’s) face was most likely self-inflicted,” according to Fox News.
On the day Smollett was charged, his lawyers issued a defense of the actor.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” they said in a statement, according to The Wrap. “The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
Smollett’s case became a social media sensation, which will complicate efforts to resolve it in court, one attorney said.
“This is publicly known that it took so many resources away from Chicago’s police department that, how are you going to justify it with giving him a slap on the wrist?” Steven Goldman, a Chicago defense attorney, told CNN.
“So I think his case is going to be a little more difficult than just (a) regular, ordinary defendant’s case because its profile is so (high) right now,” he said.
Johnson has said he felt Chicago was unfairly slammed because of the incident.
“The city of Chicago has its issues, the Chicago Police Department has its issues with racism and excessive force and all of that, and I’m acutely aware of that,” the police superintendent said. “But we didn’t earn this particular incident, and I just refuse to let us have to take that shot if I have evidence to the contrary.
“So I just want people to understand that it’s a damaging thing to do to a city and to a police department, so it’s my responsibility to ensure that the record gets set straight.”
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