Jussie Smollett Case Explained: Chicago Officials Hold Press Conference, Reveal New Details About Situation

Jussie Smollett attends the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation Hosts 22nd Annual 'Taste for a Cure' event
Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images for UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation

Empire star Jussie Smollett has been arrested and is facing a felony charge after allegedly filing a false police report and staging the attack he claimed happened to him on January 29. Thursday morning, Chicago authorities held a press conference to share some updates about how the investigation progressed to this point.

As the Inquisitr previously detailed, a grand jury indicated Jussie Smollett on Wednesday after hearing more than two hours of testimony from the two brothers connected to the case. Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were earlier identified as persons of interests and later suspects, but after they cooperated with the authorities, the investigation shifted gears and led to the charge against Smollett.

TMZ carried the press conference live as it was held Thursday morning. Police noted that they now believe that the supposed piece of hate mail that Smollett allegedly received shortly before the attack was sent by Jussie himself. The Osundairo brothers had claimed that they had no involvement in producing that letter and now Chicago police seem to believe Jussie did that entirely himself.

During the press conference, authorities detailed that they believe Smollett’s motive for creating this attack hoax was related to displeasure he had over his Empire salary. It seems that Jussie hoped creating these incidents would put him in a position to gain a better salary and advancement with the Fox show.

Police walked through the early stages of the investigation and explained how things shifted. In the beginning, the police say they noticed some peculiarities in the case, as often happens, but they gave Smollett the benefit of the doubt. That changed once they’d had the Osundairo brothers in custody for nearly 48 hours and information from the two brothers broke things open.

In the early stages of the investigation, police interviewed more than 100 people and checked video footage from 35 police pod cameras in the area of the alleged attack. The police additionally utilized footage from 20 private sector cameras and quickly identified their two people of interest.

The camera footage the police obtained helped them follow the Osundairo brothers after the supposed attack. They fled in a specific direction and got into a cab, and the police interviewed that cab driver and checked video from the vehicle. The police were then able to track the brothers backward from prior to the attack which eventually led them to a rideshare the men used which then provided their names.

The Chicago authorities then garnered information on the round-trip flights the Osundairo brothers had booked to Nigeria and they knew they had some time to get things in place for their return. The two men were taken into custody once they returned to Chicago, and their lawyer soon urged police to consider that the brothers had enlightening information to share.

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As the 48th hour the brothers were in custody drew near, things broke open in the case. The police ended up releasing the Osundairo brothers and turned their attention to Smollett. They say that they have evidence that Jussie paid the two men for the attack and a substantial volume of documentation in terms of phone records that support this new version of events.

The police believe that Smollett’s injuries were mostly self-inflicted. Jussie is due in court Thursday afternoon for a bail hearing after being arrested Thursday morning. Authorities reportedly negotiated with the Empire star’s legal team to have him turn himself in and the arrest reportedly played out peacefully.

There are clearly more details yet to be revealed with this case, but Thursday’s press conference shed significant light on how the case evolved. The Empire star could be facing as much as one to three years in prison if found guilty for the felony he’s charged with, and additional charges may come as the hate mail investigation continues. Jussie Smollett has yet to share any substantial insight into what happened now that the investigation has turned to focus on him.