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How CPD protected key players in Smollett case — including the actor himself

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo | CBS Chicago

The brothers whose interrogations led to charges that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged a phony racist and homophobic attack were given special treatment to avoid the media during their grand-jury appearances last month, according to Chicago police reports released Wednesday.

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were originally suspected of attacking Smollett. But police officials have said security videos, financial records and interviews with the brothers proved Smollett hired them to participate in a fake attack on Jan. 29.

On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped 16 counts felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett, saying they took his previous community service into consideration along with his agreement to forfeit a $10,000 bond payment.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was furious about the reversal, calling the decision to free Smollett and seal the records in his case a “whitewash.”

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On Wednesday, police released a 61-page detectives’ report, which didn’t provide any startling new details but did show how carefully police worked to protect their key witnesses — the two brothers — from the glare of the media.

On Feb. 20, the day the brothers were supposed to testify before a grand jury, their attorney parked at a police station at 51st and Wentworth and was driven by the police to Sox Park, where she got into another car with detectives and her clients.

“This was done to avoid the media coverage” at the police station, the detectives wrote in their reports.

The brothers were brought into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California through a back door to avoid media coverage, the reports say.

After their testimony, prosecutors approved charges against Smollett.

The brothers and their attorney were moved covertly out of the building and taken to a restaurant before they were returned to the Chicago South Loop Hotel where they were staying “until the media frenzy subsided.”

The police department’s Organized Crime Division provided 24-hour surveillance and security at the hotel at 11 W. 26th from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21, according to the police reports.

A law-enforcement source said the round-the-clock protection was intended to keep Smollett and his camp from influencing the testimony of the brothers.

The reports also showed police were sensitive to Smollett’s exposure to the media. After he was arrested Feb. 21, he was transported from a police station in the South Loop to the Cook County Jail near 26th and California.

Smollett was taken in an unmarked police car with tinted windows, detectives pointed out in their report. At no time in the police station was Smollett “placed in a cell or subjected to the media,” the report said.