This week, actor Jussie Smollett, once known most prominently for his role on the hit show Empire, has been in a Chicago courtroom for a trial surrounding an alleged hate-filled attack against him that occurred in January 2019. According to authorities, Smollett staged the attack as a hoax to drum up media attention and sympathy within Fox, where officials were allegedly not taking death threats Smollet was being sent throughout the production of Empire seriously enough.
As a part of the trial, Abimobola Osundairo — one of the two alleged attackers who yelled racial epithets and the term "MAGA country" at Smollett before beating him, pouring bleach on him, and putting a noose around his neck — testified on Wednesday that the actor "wanted me to beat him up." Osundairo, who also worked on Empire as a stand-in, said that Smollett had contacted him and explained he wanted him to "fake beat [Smollett] up."
"I believed he could help further my acting career," Osundairo testified, according to CNN. "He told me that we would need another person to fake beat him up. He mentioned could my brother do it. I said yes."
As a part of the trial, the jury was shown surveillance video of the group doing a "dry run" a day before the incident occurred. Shown on Tuesday, the video depicts Smollett and the Osundairo brothers walking near the scene of where the attack would occur.
Weeks after it happened, while Abimbola Osundairo and his brother were being questioned, Smollett sent him a text.
“Brother…..I love you,” Smollett wrote, according to the New York Post. “I stand with you. I know 10000% you and your brother did nothing wrong and never would.”
“I am making this statement so everyone else knows,” the text said. “They will not get away with this. Please hit me when they let you go. I am behind you fully.”
The brothers allege that they were paid $3,500 for the hoax.
Smollett's defense attorney, Nenye Uche, maintains that an attack did happen and that the brothers attacked the actor because they "did not like him as a person." He faces six felony charges including filing a false police report and could be sentenced up to three years in jail.
It is unknown whether Smollett will testify. The trial will resume today.