Chicago, IL – “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s older brother wrote an opinion column in which he asserted the actor’s innocence and said his little brother has been having night terrors since he was attacked.
Jojo submitted the long column titled “What if Jussie is telling the truth?” to BET.com for publication and they ran it as an opinion piece.
The column, fraught with factual errors, painted a picture of a terrified, marginalized little boy who is being bullied by law enforcement.
“Jussie is as strong as iron, but following an attack like this, there is a normal and natural amount of post trauma that most likely anyone should expect to suffer,” Jojo wrote. “I have literally seen him violently awakening from night terrors, following the assault. Some of my siblings, as well as Jussie’s partner and closest friends have seen similar things.”
Jussie previously reported trouble sleeping after the anticipation of seeing the Olsen twins in "Fuller House" kept him awake.
Jojo alleged that the entire case against Jussie hinged on one interview with the Osundairo brothers, when they confessed to having helped the actor stage the hoax hate crime.
But Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have repeatedly said there is a mountain of evidence supporting the investigation.
In his column, Jojo complained the police didn’t show their evidence to his little brother.
He also lamented claims that Jussie sent a threatening letter to himself at the television studio a week prior to the hoax attack and said “the FBI then refuted this claim.”
But that’s not true either.
The mayor has said there is an investigation being conducted by federal authorities into the origin of the threatening letter and Jussie has not been exonerated.
That letter is still under federal investigation and is believed to have been sent by Smollett to himself.
Jojo presented his writing as directed to those who have not victim-blamed and shamed his brother.
“Make no mistake. I know with all my heart that plenty of people in his life are far worse off. I am definitely not asking you to feel sorry for my brother. He would never allow that. He still carries a humility, grace and knows he walks in more rarified air than so many people who have been wrongly accused and paying a heavy price,” the older brother wrote.
He said his little brother never wanted all the attention that surrounded what police believe is a hoax attack the actor staged on himself.
Jussie was initially charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct on Feb. 20.
The 36-year-old actor turned himself in at the Chicago Police Department’s 1st District at 5 a.m. on Feb. 21, to face felony disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report. He was released on bond later the same day.
He was later indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.
Chicago police have said they believe Jussie lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Jussie told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Jussie’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Jussie’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Jussie paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
Despite the copious quantities of evidence that the police investigation unearthed pointing to Jussie as his own attacker, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue the case.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is now facing criticism of her office and an investigation into their handling of Jussie’s case, which resulted in all 16 felony charges against the actor being dropped.
The city of Chicago is suing Jussie for the cost of the overtime associated with investigating the hoax attack.