Chicago, IL – The brothers who told police that “Empire” star Jussie Smollett paid them to stage a hoax attack on him have filed a defamation lawsuit against the actor’s attorneys.
Gloria Schmidt, attorney for brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, held a press conference to announce the suit on Tuesday morning.
“My city, my police department, and my clients all deserve to have their reputations restored,” Schmidt told reporters.
“Attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, through their continued false statements and hateful rhetoric, have only deepened the damage that was caused by the very first out of 16 counts of lies that were told to the police that started this whole situation,” she added.
“That is why today we are taking action in federal court,” the attorney continued. “We want to end these malicious attacks and ensure that those responsible for continuing to destroy the reputations of the Chicago Police Department, the city of Chicago, and that of Ola and Abel Osundairo are held accountable.”
Geragos has previously represented such celebrities as Michael Jackson and Colin Kaepernick.
The lawsuit alleged that Smollett’s attorneys have said publicly that the Osundairo brothers “led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett” despite the fact they knew it was not accurate, FOX News reported.
The brothers released a brief statement through their attorney.
“We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life,” Ola and Abel Osundairo said. “These lies are destroying our character and our reputations in our personal and professional life.”
“Those who know us personally know that we don’t have hate for anyone – that is not who we are,” the brothers’ statement continued. “We try to spread as much love and positivity with whoever we come in contact with. We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue.”
Schmidt vigorously defended her clients’ role in the whole chain of events and said the Osundairo brothers were “asked to do something by a friend that they trusted, and later that friend betrayed their trust.”
“The Chicagoan brothers told the truth,” she said. “They could have remained silent, but they told the truth to the police, and with their right hands in the air, they told the truth to the grand jury.”
Schmidt said that although the brothers admitted to participating in what they believed was a publicity stunt at Smollett’s direction, they never called the police or lied to the police, according to FOX News.
Another member of the brothers’ legal team, attorney Gregory Kulis, said Ola and Abel Osundairo had lost work and were having trouble paying their bills in the wake of Smollett’s hoax attack scandal.
“No one should be surprised by this lawsuit,” said attorney James Tunick, another member of the brothers’ legal team. “[The defendants] know the extent of their false and vicious remarks.”
Tunick said most of the false statements were made after the charges against Smollett were dropped, according to FOX News.
He said their legal team had actual evidence refuting some of the lies that were told by Smollett’s attorneys.
The Osundairo brothers’ names became infamous after they testified before a Cook County grand jury that the “Empire” star had paid them to help stage a hoax attack against him in January.
They said he gave them a check and promised more money when they returned from a trip to Nigeria, which they left on just hours after they faked the attack on Smollett.
Smollett told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
Surveillance video and taxi and rideshare records led investigators to the Osundairo brothers, two African Americans of Nigerian descent who had worked with Smollett on the “Empire” television series.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters after Smollett’s arrest that police considered Smollett a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
He said police have obtained phone records that “clearly indicate” Smollett and the Osundairo brothers talked to each other quite a bit before and after the staged attack, as well as while the brothers were out of the country.
Superintendent Johnson also said that Smollett had beaten himself up before he went to the hospital.
“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attacked where they punched him a little bit. But as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted,” the superintendent explained.
He said that he believed the actor wanted the faked attack caught on camera, but the particular camera he chose to perform in front of wasn’t pointed the right direction.
The Osundairo brothers are not facing any charges for their role in the incident.
“Mr. Smollett is the one that orchestrated this crime,” the superintendent explained. “They became cooperating witnesses in the 47th hour of their 48-hour hold time. So now they are witnesses to what he did so he has to be accountable for what he did. He orchestrated this.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Smollett in April, in what has become a controversial decision that has initiated several investigations into the prosecutor’s office.
The city of Chicago is suing Smollett for the cost of the overtime used to investigate the hoax attack.