The two brothers who were arrested and later released in connection with a purported hate crime against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett have issued a public apology, as questions remain about their role in the alleged attack — which Chicago police suspect was staged.
Brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were arrested in mid-February at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport upon their return to the U.S. from a trip to Nigeria, where they traveled immediately after the reported attack on Smollett. They were released without charges, provided testimony about the incident to a grand jury, and reportedly continue to cooperate with investigators.
Smollett reportedly claimed that two men attacked him on the early morning hours of January 29 in Chicago, shouting homophobic and racial slurs before tying a rope around his neck. Smollett was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly falsifying a police report. Chicago police said in a press conference following Smollett’s arrest that they believe he paid the brothers $3,500 to orchestrate the attack, but subsequent reports have shown that Smollett wrote a memo on the check he gave them indicating the money was for a nutrition and fitness program.
Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the Osundairo brothers, said in a statement to CNN that her clients expressed “tremendous regret” for their role in the incident.
“They understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves,” Schmidt said.
Smollett has not commented publicly since his arrest, and his lawyers have said that he maintains his innocence. The actor is currently free on bail and due back in court on March 14.
[Feature image: Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File]