Jussie Smollett: Conviction reached in Chicago attack case

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The jury found that Smollett orchestrated a racist attack on himself to cover up a fictional encounter with a man who played a role in the attack

The jury has reached a verdict in the case of actor Jussie Smollett.

It was taken by phone and texted verdict form without the jury in the room.

The jury is in question on the possible extra charge of disorderly conduct and has been asked to read “order.”

“Stand by and respond to the first question with your reply,” said the judge.

The actor had been accused of faking a racist and homophobic attack on himself in Chicago in January.

It all began at a petrol station in January as the actor was walking near his apartment building. Police alleged he arranged the false attack to cover up an incident in which he allegedly encountered a man who played a role in the attack – indeed the part in the staged incident was referenced several times in his cell phone calls to the so-called attackers.

The Chicago Police Department alleged the man was in a car with two other men who are now charged in the crime.

Video caption Jussie Smollett’s legal team hit back at charges and FBI documents

No evidence was produced to tie Smollett to the attack

It began with two men. They walked up to the mixed-race actor and shouted racist and homophobic slurs, assaulted him, tied a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and yelled “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing.

On 19 January police said they had a suspect – but no one was ever named or arrested. The next day they released a statement from 18-year-old Abimbola Osundairo, who said he had played a role in the attack but declined to take part in the scheme.

Immediately afterwards it was claimed two brothers staged the attack at Smollett’s request and paid them. The brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, were arrested and were charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication and trying to support a convicted felon.

Photo credit: AP/Nancy Armour

Shortly afterwards police said they had a suspect – but no one was ever named or arrested.

The two men claimed they had been paid to play a role in the staged attack

On 19 January Smollett was at his home with his personal trainer when his phone picked up a call from two people, who he thinks were working for the so-called attackers. The two men had called. They wanted Smollett to come to the scene. They did not leave a message.

Smollett hung up. He called back. The call was also completed. Police said Smollett spoke with the two men as they were leaving. They said they were waiting for him to come outside.

Detectives interviewed the two men. They allegedly identified Smollett as the person who had arranged the attack, but they did not make the case for the film star to be charged.

On 21 January the Chicago Police Department began looking for other suspects.

According to the police reports, Smollett told them the attackers specifically referenced MAGA, a reference to the Make America Great Again slogan, carried by US President Donald Trump. Police then went onto bring out surveillance footage and conduct an extensive canvass of the area.

They did not turn up any suspects. On 22 January it was revealed that police were not yet able to nail down anything.

In the course of that investigation detectives found images of the “MAGA” hats worn by Smollett’s assailants. It was revealed that, according to the brothers who staged the attack, Smollett’s attackers said his initials symbolised MAGA, and mentioned the word MAGA 13 times. They also told police Smollett had specifically requested the attack.

Photo credit: Chicago Police Department Image caption A photo in evidence shows the shirt from the staged attack

Police got nowhere in their quest for Smollett. No one else was arrested.

Then on 29 January Chicago police said they had another person of interest in the case. People who worked at a Subway sandwich shop near the scene of the attack told police they had seen photos of the person wearing the hat to work there.

Smollett’s lawyers said he was appalled by the police press conference.

They say he is innocent of all charges in the case.

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