An attorney for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett says the reason he initially said his attackers were white was because they could have been wearing makeup. Smollett himself identified the two Nigerian brothers as suspects from police surveillance footage.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, attorney Tina Glandian said Smollett did not recognize brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo when they attacked him on January 29th.
Glandian said when he learned the pair were in custody, he “found it hard to believe” because he told police he saw that one of his alleged attackers had “pale or white skin” around his eyes, beneath a ski mask.
Smollett’s attorney insisted that the actor wasn’t lying, and said the reason could have been that the brothers were “in disguise.”
“He did tell police that from what he saw, he thought it was white or pale skin, that’s what he initially said. Obviously, you can disguise that. You can put make-up on,'” she said.
Glandian pointed out a YouTube video Abel Osundairo made in 2016 in which he wore white makeup to perform a Joker monologue from the film The Dark Knight.
“There’s a video, it took me all of five minutes when I was looking into the brothers, to of one of the brothers in whiteface doing the Joker monologue,” she said.
The brothers told police that Smollett himself had paid them to carry out the staged attack.
Chicago Police believe that Smollett staged a “hate crime” hoax attack in the hopes of attracting public sympathy and raising his public profile, so he could demand salary increases from “Empire” bosses.
On Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped all charges against Smollett, in exchange for 10 hours of community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the situation a “whitewash of justice” and said Smollett was let off because he is a “person of influence.”
“It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie – owe him an apology – for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough,” Smollett’s defense team said Thursday.
President Trump tweeted that the Department of Justice would be looking into the prosecution’s handling of the case.
Smollett is still under investigation by the F.B.I. and the U.S. Postal Service for an earlier letter which was sent to the “Empire” set in Chicago, allegedly threatening him with homophobic insults. Investigators are probing whether Smollett had the letter sent to himself.
“He at this point again has been victimized much more by what’s happened afterwards than what happened that night.”
Watch @SavannahGuthrie‘s full interview with Jussie Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian. pic.twitter.com/JY2ZYHYkVU— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 28, 2019