A man who worked with Jussie Smollett has told a court the actor recruited him and his brother to fake a homophobic and racist attack on him in Chicago nearly three years ago.
Abimbola Osundairo said Smollett asked him and his brother “to fake beat him up” and instructed them on how to carry out the January 2019 hoax.
Smollett planned a “dry run” and gave him a 100-dollar bill to buy supplies for the staged attack, Mr Osundairo said.
He said he and his brother agreed because Mr Osundairo, who worked as a stand-in on TV show Empire, felt indebted to Smollett for help with his acting career.
Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report — one count for each time he gave a report, to three different officers.
The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted he would be likely to be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
Smollett’s defence lawyer says he was a “real victim” and the brothers’ accounts are unreliable.
Mr Osundairo said that a few days before the attack, Smollett showed him some hate mail he said he received at the Empire studio.
Jurors viewed the note, which included a drawing of a person hanging by a noose, with a gun pointed at the stick figure and the letters MAGA, an apparent reference to then-president Donald Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again.
He said Smollett sent him a text message a few days later asking to meet up “on the low”, which he took to meet in private about something secret. Mr Osundairo said when they met, Smollett asked him “to beat him up” and asked if his brother could help.
“I was confused, I look puzzled,” Mr Osundairo said, and then “he explained he wanted me to fake beat him up”.
Mr Osundairo said that before the staged attack, Smollett drove the brothers to the spot where the attack would occur, and they decided the men should throw bleach on Smollett rather than the original plan to use petrol.
He also told that court that Smollett said a camera in the area would record the attack. “He wanted a camera to catch it,” Mr Osundairo said.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Chicago police detective said Smollett appeared troubled when he was told that a surveillance camera did not record the alleged assault.
Kimberly Murray said she interviewed the former Empire actor on the morning of the attack and he told her he had been assaulted by two men — one white and wearing a ski mask, the other he could not see — as he was returning home after buying a sandwich.
Ms Murray also said Smollett told her he had received a threatening phone call days earlier, but he refused to hand over his phone, which the detective said could help police piece together a timeline of what happened, and he would not consent to giving medical records or a DNA swab.
She said Smollett was “upset” when she told him a surveillance camera in the area did not capture the alleged attack because it was pointed away from the scene.
Ms Murray said she explained to the actor that the cover on the pod camera makes it impossible to know which way it is pointing.