Jussie Smollett has spoken out for the first time in nearly two years — insisting he’s innocent and the case against him is “bulls–t.”
Smollett, accused of staging a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself, spoke with BET News host and former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill on an Instagram Live session Wednesday evening about the six felony charges he’s facing and a criminal justice system that can’t seem to “let this go.”
“There is an example being made,” Smollett told Hill, according to Fox. “And the sad part is that there is an example being made of someone that did not do what they’re being accused of.”
The former “Empire” actor insisted there are witnesses who back up his original claim that two white men, shouting racist and homophobic slurs, attacked him in Chicago before dousing him with bleach and throwing a noose around his neck on a frigid January night in 2019.
He said a narrative was “intentionally created” to make it appear as if he was lying, and the Chicago Police Department’s investigation against him is a “farce.”
“These are the things that people don’t necessarily know because the lies and the things that were not true were yelled from the rooftop,” Smollett said. “There is a tape … there is something, but of course it cuts off right before it happens.”
It’s not clear what tape Smollett was referring to and it’s also unclear which witnesses he claims saw white men attack him.
Police records previously released on the case show cops only spoke with a single witness who said one of the people running from the alleged crime scene appeared to be white. No other witnesses reported that narrative and there was no video of the alleged attack, police records show.
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Using the Windy City’s sprawling surveillance camera system, taxi cameras and ride-share records, police were able to find only two people who were in the vicinity of the crime scene when the alleged attack happened.
Those two people were Ola and Abel Osundairo — two black Nigerian brothers who met Smollett on the set of “Empire” and occasionally purchased drugs for him and offered personal training services.
When police still believed Smollett to be a victim, the Osundairos were arrested and grilled for their involvement. After nearly 48 hours in custody, the brothers told police they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack so he could get a pay bump on the set of “Empire.” Soon after, Smollett was arrested and eventually indicted on 16 felonies for filing a false police report.
The disgraced star said the two brothers “changed their story at the last minute” while police previously said the Osundairos remained uncooperative and silent until finally spilling their alleged version of the attack at the eleventh hour.
Still, Smollett insisted in the new interview “there would be no reason for me to do something foolish.”
“I do think that if you look at all of the things that were happening for me, and then for all of the opportunities and all of the money … whatever, that I have lost at this point, if in fact what they said was true, the smart thing to do would be to admit that. At least there would be a place to work back from. This is bulls—t. It’s bulls—t,” the actor said.
The original charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped last March by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office even though no new evidence was found between the indictment and the dismissal, according to Dan Webb, the special prosecutor assigned to re-investigate the case following public outcry.
Webb brought new charges against Smollett this February, this time only six felony counts for filing a false police report, and later found State’s Attorney Kim Foxx engaged in substantial abuses in her handling of the case.
Smollett lamented his inability to speak out on the saga during the legal roller-coaster ride he’s been on for the last 19 months, saying he’s not sure how his apparent forced silence has served him.
“It’s been frustrating, to say the least. It’s been frustrating. It’s been beyond frustrating because to be somebody that’s so outspoken, to be somebody that speaks up for so much and speaks up about so many things, it’s been difficult to kinda be, you know, quiet,” Smollett said.
“To not be able to say all of the things that you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftop because, I don’t think that people realize I’ve just been wrapped up in some form of a case for the last … approaching, in just a couple months, two years,” Smollett went on.
“So it’s been beyond frustrating, and I think that I’m certainly not going rogue, and I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that. I just don’t see, honestly, what staying quiet has done, where it’s gotten me,” he said. “Then there’s the bigger picture that it’s so much bigger than me.”
He insisted the public should take a closer look at the police and prosecutors involved in the case, claiming there is a financial motivation to “win” — no matter the cost.
“You’re willing to throw people under the bus that don’t deserve to be. You’re willing to coax people into lying about saying things happened that did not happen, you’re able to switch a narrative and sell a narrative based on the agenda that you’re trying to sell,” Smollett railed. “That is what’s been happening.”