Police issue arrest warrant in ‘Empire’ attack

By Suzette Laboy, CNN

The investigation into the alleged racist and homophobic attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett took another unexpected turn Sunday.

The FBI arrested and charged two brothers with playing a role in the attack on Smollett.

But it appears that the investigation is not over just yet.

Earlier Sunday, police, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials from the Chicago Police Department held a press conference to update the public on the case.

In a short speech, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson made several statements that appeared to back off of the initial theory that the actor reported a hate crime was motivated by something other than his appearance.

In the past, Smollett has told CNN he is gay.

While the attack itself is no longer being investigated as a hate crime, the supervisors remain “well aware” of Smollett’s sexual orientation, Johnson said.

“We are still investigating the motivation for the attack. While there’s no evidence to say the alleged victim staged this attack, we can’t overlook the possibility,” he said.

Johnson also addressed speculation about the two men questioned by the police after the attack and arrested this weekend.

“I can tell you right now, they’re not involved in the crime,” Johnson said.

“They were arrested because of their involvement in the attack. That’s it. They’re not suspects. They’re being held as witnesses to the attack.”

He explained that a statement from one of the brothers indicated the other was the attacker.

“The brothers, as I understand it, have made statements to police that corroborate the information that the alleged victim had reported to police,” Johnson said.

CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos says the two men are convinced they are innocent.

“They know they’re gonna get screwed. That’s why they’re smiling today,” Geragos said.

Geragos says both men are of Nigerian descent.

“And their account (to authorities) and their background. And their neighborhood is very, very different than the neighborhood the alleged victim lives in,” he said.

On Saturday, Police said the men were being held as they gathered more information. They have been questioned about their involvement, though not about the possibility of their helping in a cover-up.

They are due in court Monday.

Emanuel, speaking at the press conference, spoke directly to Smollett, thanking him for turning to Chicago police and saying he wished the assault against him never happened.

“I’m angry and saddened that any individual would use the media to victimize another,” Emanuel said.

“I’m hopeful this arrest and further investigation will further clear this case up and those responsible will be held accountable,” he said.

He said it is important to stay vigilant and to report any harassment “so that we can find you and put you where you belong, in prison.”

The two men, Abel and Ola Osundairo, met Smollett in Chicago in February 2018 at a restaurant, a law enforcement source told CNN. The men were unemployed and living with their mother, the source said.

Two weeks ago, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters the men had been hired by Smollett to stage the attack.

Some of the details in Johnson’s statements, including that the attack was orchestrated, match the brothers’ version of events to police, the law enforcement source said.

On Saturday night, Johnson spoke with Smollett and granted him a private briefing at police headquarters, Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

The men’s family issued a statement after they were charged.

“We are not only devastated by the racist and homophobic hate that Jussie has suffered, but also by the manner in which he has been vilified by the media,” the statement said. “Jussie has always been a kind and loving person. We are glad that the Chicago Police Department was able to uncover the truth in this case and that Jussie will finally be able to get the help he needs.”

CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin, Catherine E. Shoichet, Eli Watkins, Dana Ford, Ed Payne, Sinéad Carew, Cheryl Casone, Eric Levenson, Michelle Knight, Sara Sidner, Carol Cratty, Dana Hull, Lauren Woolstencroft, Melissa Gray, Dominique Debucquoy, Cheryl Casone, Chris Geidner, Jim Acosta, Tarah Acosta, Kelly Day, Carol Lee, Rose Hartman, Michelle Taheny, John Anthony Jepsen, Vicki Needham,

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