Chicago Police have cast aside a tip today that looked to directly connect Jussie Smollett to the former “persons of interest” in the January 29 alleged attack on him as the Empire actor is looking to add more muscle to his legal team.
A resident or someone visiting Smollett’s Chicago apartment told the cops that they saw the actor in the elevator with Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo late in the night of the assault. Now confirmed to have known Smollett socially as an Empire extra and a personal trainer, the brothers were picked up by the police on February 13 and questioned for 48 hours before being released without charges.
The incident was originally described as a racist and homophobic barrage that left the openly gay Smollett beaten, drenched in bleach and with a rope slung around his neck. Previously identified as the individuals in the photos of “persons of interest” in the Smollett case, the Osundario siblings are now said to be “fully” cooperating with authorities, according to one law enforcement source.
However, this tip about the trio being seen together fell fast from fact, as Chicago police spokesman Anthony Gugliemi announced on social media this afternoon:
CPD has confirmed that a tip this morning about a sighting at the residential towers of individuals involved in this alleged incident is unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives.
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 19, 2019
This short-lived new turn in the CPD probe comes as Smollett’s team has been in contact with Hollywood lawyer Mark Geragos “the last couple of days,” a source told Deadline on Tuesday.
There is no formal agreement between the two sides at present, we’re told, but such a move would bring the high-profile attorney into Smollett’s camp amid a swirl of conflicting accounts of an alleged attack on the Empire actor last month. Currently represented by Chicago defense attorneys Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, Smollett and everyone else could have seen the high profile Geragos using his pundit platform to basically audition for the gig on a CNN appearance on Monday night where the the lawyer offered a spirited rallying for the actor.
Right now, Smollett’s legal team, with or without Geragos, are standing arm-in-arm to keep their client from another formal session with the CPD.
Though there has been no sit-down scheduled despite repeated requests by the Chicago police, the department continues asking lawyers and reps for the actor for a chance to be able to talk to Smollett again. As suspicion and the spotlight of the investigation seems now to be centering on Smollett himself, the CPD want more information about what happened in the early hours of January 29, when two men reportedly attacked the Empire star near his Windy City his apartment.
Now, based on information obtained from the Osundario brothers and others, the CPD are seeking knowledge whether the attack might have been preplanned and with an agenda.
Speaking on Good Morning America on February 14 in his first interview since the January 29 incident, Smollett said he thought the attack occurred because of his high profile criticism of the former Celebrity Apprentice host. “I come really, really hard against 45,” the actor told GMA co-host Robin Roberts. “I come really, really hard against his administration, and I don’t hold my tongue,” Smollett added of the President who called the attack on him “horrible” a coupe of days after it occurred.
Meanwhile, Empire producers are cutting Smollett’s scenes from the episodes that are in production this week and going forward, according to sources. Just over a week ago, Fox and others connected with the show strongly rejected the notion that Smollett was being written off Empire, which some local Chicago media floated as a reason the attack may have be orchestrated. Now, even with the renewed support for Smollett from Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney on February 17, Fox has been noticeably quiet about the future of the actor on the show.
Empire returns for its second half of its fifth season on March 13 – by which time, if it isn’t resolved, this case will have shifted several more times you can rest assured.