Before Empire actor Jussie Smollett On Monday denied that he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself in downtown Chicago, testifying at trial that “there was no hoax.”
Smollett, who faces charges that he lied to Chicago police about the January 2019 attack, sought to refute damaging testimony from the two brothers last week. They said Smollett, who is gay and black, staged the hoax to get public, giving them $100 for supplies and instructing them to tie a noose around his neck and scream homosexual insults. They also said Smollett gave them a check for $3,500 to do so.
Smollett told jurors he had just returned from a trip and was walking home from buying a sandwich when someone yelled at him about the TV show then shouted a comment. racism, homophobia. Smollett says he got angry and turned around to confront someone he said was taller than him.
Standing up in a Chicago courtroom, Smollett demonstrated how he told the man to walk quickly toward him, then pointed to his left temple to show the jury where the man hit him.
“I like to think I’ve landed a punch. But I don’t know if it’s going to land,” Smollett said. He said he slipped and they tumbled on the ground for 30 seconds. Smollett said he saw a second person – who he believes kicked him in his direction – as that person ran away.
Smollett said he assumed his attacker was white because he used racial slurs and shouted that it was “the MAGA nation,” an apparent reference to the campaign slogan. by President Donald Trump at the time, “Make America Great Again”. Two brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who are Black, testified last week that Smollett instructed them to shout “this is MAGA country” during the mock attack.
Former ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett indicted in Chicago
Smollett said he picked up his phone and told the person he was talking to he “jumped.” He noticed he had a noose around his neck when he got up, grabbed his baguette, and went up to his apartment. Smollett said he removed the noose, but a friend at his apartment called the police and told him to put the noose back on so the police could see it. Smollett said he was upset when the police were called because he would never have done so.
“I am a black man in America. I don’t trust the police,” Smollett said. “I was also a celebrity at the time and I was openly gay.”
Smollett also testified that he wrote a check for $3,500 for nutrition and training advice from Abimbola Osundairo while he was preparing to leave town. When asked by his defense attorney if he would pay Osundairo for some kind of hoax, Smollett replied: “Never.”
The lawyer asked him if he was planning a hoax.
“No,” said Smollett, “no trickery.”
He also said “absolutely not” when asked if he had given Osundairo and his brother $100 to pay for supplies for the mock attack.
Smollett said after the news broke that everyone, including Trump, had an opinion about what happened and that he hated the attention.
“I have lost my livelihood,” he added.
Smollett also testified that Osundairo had told him about an herbal steroid that promotes weight loss but is illegal in the US. .
Osundairo testified that Smollett sent him a text message — which jurors saw last week — about talking “trivial,” and during the conversation Smollett asked him about helping orchestrate build the attack. Smollett said Monday that the message was related to illegal steroids and that he used language Osundairo had previously used.
Defense attorneys argue that the Osundairo brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of orchestrating the hoax because they disliked him and then saw an opportunity to make money. They suggested that after the brothers were questioned by police about the alleged assault, they asked Smollett $1 million each to not testify against him at trial.
Smollett’s attorneys also argued that Chicago police were rushed to judgment when they filed charges against Smollett, and suggested that a third person may have been involved in the attack.
Smollett said he met Abimbola Osundairo in 2017 at a club, where he learned Osundairo had also worked on the film. Empire. He said the two used drugs together and went to a bathhouse, where Smollett said they “made it up”. Over time, he said, the two used more drugs and engaged in sexual acts together. Osundairo testified last week that he and Smollett did not have sexual relations.
Smollett testified that he met Olabingo, Abimbola’s brother, but they didn’t talk and “he freaked me out.” He said Abimbola Osundairo made it seem like they needed to be “sneaky” when they were together around his brother. Smollett says he never trusted Olabingo Osundairo.
Prosecutors say Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with Empire the studio’s response to the hate mail he received. The letter included a drawing of a stick hanging from a noose, with a gun pointed at it, and the word “MAGA.”
Brett Mahoney, producer Empire in Chicago, testified earlier on Monday that law enforcement was contacted and the letter was turned over to authorities. He said Smollett had agreed to increase security on site, but didn’t want anyone to track him home because it was too difficult to break into.
Smollett testified that he thought the studio was doing or suggesting too much security, such as wanting someone to drive him to and from the set. He said Abimbola Osundairo joked about being his security, but he didn’t take it seriously.
Also Monday, security guard Anthony Moore said that around the time of the alleged assault, he saw a person on the ground at the end of the block and two men running, one of which was white. . Moore said he told police what he saw, but when questioned by the special counsel later, he felt pressured to change his story. Moore testified that he signed a statement saying the person “could be” a Black, but that he felt “pressured and threatened to come up with something I didn’t see.”
Under cross-examination, Moore said he only saw the man for one to two seconds. He also said he thought the men were fooling around and that the two men laughed as they ran past him.
Smollett, 39, was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors said was a false police report of the alleged assault – one count for each times he reported – to three different officers. The fourth-degree felony carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, but experts say if Smollett is found guilty he could potentially be placed on probation and ordered to do community service.
© 2021 Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8428910/jussie-smollett-takes-stand-trial/ Jussie Smollett says ‘no hoax’ during trial of MAGA assault allegations – National