In the 47th hour of that detention, in a small fluorescently lit room painted a bland white, the brothers began to confess: It was all a hoax.
“He came up with this plan of how we’re gonna, like, pretend to attack him, um, by his house,” Abimbola Osundairo told police.
Yet the court case was not broadcast on video for the public, so the 2019 confession video represents the first time that the broader public is able to see and hear the brothers’ version of events.
CNN+ obtained the video for its new documentary, “Chicago vs. Jussie Smollett,” now available exclusively on CNN+.
The hour-long documentary traces the winding history of the case and explores the broader criminal justice system in Chicago.
To tell the story, the documentary features interviews with former Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson, special prosecutor Dan Webb, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, two of Smollett’s brothers and members of his legal team. Smollett did not make himself available for an interview.
What the confession video shows
In the 2019 confession video, the Osundairo brothers, who worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire,” explain that Smollett told them to carry out the hoax and planned it ahead of time. Abimbola Osundairo even shows the detective how he fake punched Smollett and repeats his lines from that night.
“Am I walking away from you or walking toward you?” the detective asks.
“You’re walking away from me,” Abimbola Osundairo says.
“Alright, so we’re gonna start there. I’m walking away, and then?” the detective says.
“I say, ‘Yo, aren’t you the f****tn***** off Empire?’ “Abimbola Osundairo responds.
At another point, a detective lies on the ground, and Abimbola Osundairo reenacts how he forcefully rubbed his knuckles into Smollett’s face in an attempt to bruise him.
The brothers expressed differing views on Smollett’s motivation for the incident, the video shows. Abimbola Osundairo said he did not know definitively why Smollett came up with the hoax.
“If I say something it’s gonna be opinion. It’s not gonna be based off anything he said. So I would think it’s to get people to feel for him more,” he said.
Yet Olabinjo Osundairo said he knew Smollett’s motivation. He said Smollett had received a piece of hate mail in recent weeks that the actor believed was ignored.
“He might not remember, but I’m gonna tell you guys,” Olabinjo Osundairo said in the video. “(Smollett) said his network is not taking the hate mail seriously, and that’s the reason why he wanted to do this. Because they wanted it taken seriously. I remember that vividly.”
The brothers, who worked as fitness trainers, also told police that Smollett had written them a check for $3,500. They said they believed the check was in exchange for a meal and workout plan ahead of Smollett appearing in a music video, as well as for the hoax attack.
“The way it was sounding it made it seem like it could be for either/or — for the video and for that,” Abimbola Osundairo said.
“I appreciate your candor and your honesty, I really do,” detective told Olabinjo Osundairo.
Former police superintendent says Smollett shouldn’t get jail time
The documentary also features the perspectives of Johnson, the former police superintendent, and Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney.
Despite those harsh words, Johnson told CNN in the documentary that he did not believe Smollett should spend time behind bars.
“From the very beginning of this, I never thought he should serve any jail time. Just be held accountable for it,” he said.
In the documentary, Foxx defended her decisions and progressive policies. She also questioned whether a jail sentence was appropriate in Smollett’s case.
“The question is was this justice and accountability? Or was this satiating a revenge for him not apologizing for what he did to the city?” Foxx said.