Almost 500 pages of legal docs were released in the Jussie Smollett case, inspiring more questions about why Chicago prosecutors decided to drop all 16 charges against the former Empire actor just days after he was indicted for allegedly faking a hate crime. The docs, which had originally been sealed, contradict what the police initially said was the motive for the crime — that Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary on the hit Fox show. The city has since sued Smollett for more than $130,000 to cover investigation costs.
Here are some shockers from the court documents:
• Smollett’s full list of injuries were documented as abrasions to the right and left cheeks on his face; redness to his neck; soreness in his back, shoulder, and ribs; and an unspecified injury to his lower lip.
• The police note that Smollett had changed his story about what allegedly happened on the night of January 29. According to notes dated February 14, Smollett described one alleged attacker as “pale” and wearing a mask. Previously, he told police that the attacker was white. When Smollett was shown photos of two brothers police had picked up for the attack, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, Smollett denied that they were the attackers because they were “black as sin.”
• The Osundairo brothers, who testified to helping Smollett stage the alleged attack, said that the actor was unhappy with how the studio handled his alleged “hate” letter. Earlier this year, Smollett said he received a letter that contained white powder that was mailed to the studio in which Empire filmed.
• According to the brothers, Smollett offered to pay them $3,500 plus another $500 to stage the alleged hate crime. They also told investigators that Smollett asked that only one of the brothers do the physical assault as he didn’t trust the other to “pull his punches.” The brother who allegedly hit Smollett told police that he punched the actor in the body while “being careful” not to do much damage. At one point, Smollett allegedly punched back after he was thrown to the ground, the brothers testified. The other brother who didn’t do the actual punching said he “began rubbing his knuckles into Smollett’s face trying to bruise him without hurting him badly.”
• The documents also show that Smollett took investigators on a walk-through of the supposed crime scene. At one point, police asked Smollett why his sweater didn’t get soiled when he was on the ground, and he said it was because he fell on ice and snow.
• Investigators also made note that Smollett refused to sign a medical release or turn his phone over to police after reporting the crime. He was also reluctant to do a swab test for DNA on the rope.
• The brothers testified that they left the clothes they wore during the alleged attack in Nigeria, their native country, which they both traveled to soon after the incident. They also said they filled an empty bottle of El Yucateco hot sauce with bleach and used clothesline for rope during the alleged attack. Smollett had initially told investigators that the attackers tied a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs and championing “MAGA country.”
• The documents chronicle texts dating back many months before the incident that show conversations between Smollett and the brothers, including one in which Smollett was allegedly trying to buy drugs from one of the men, including “weed, molly or Whitney,” a slang for cocaine. According to the documents, Smollett used Venmo to pay for drugs.
• In fact, the reports document “multiple occasions” in which Smollett used the online payment app to pay for “illicit activity” couched as “payment for legitimate expenses.” One example comes from September 2018 in which police accuse Smollett of purchasing ecstasy from one of the brothers and listing it on Venmo as payment for “training.”
Stay tuned because this month we expect to see even more evidence from the case, including video surveillance from the Chicago neighborhood where the incident allegedly occurred.