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Abimbola Osundairo testifies Jussie Smollett asked him to ‘fake beat him up’

“I was confused. I looked puzzled. He [Smollett] explained to me that he wanted me to fake beat him up,” said Abimbola Osundairo, who met the actor while he worked as an extra on “Empire” in 2017.

Abimbola Osundairo, left, and attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, right, leave the courtroom after the third day of Jussie Smollett’s trial Wednesday.
Abimbola Osundairo, left, and attorney Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, right, leave the courtroom after the third day of Jussie Smollett’s trial Wednesday.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo said he was many things to Jussie Smollett: a friend, a colleague on the set of “Empire,” an occasional drug dealer, a bodybuilding coach and — according to prosecutors — an accomplice in a hoax hate crime attack.

On the third day of Smollett’s trial for allegedly choreographing a phony assault that touched off a massive police manhunt, Osundairo was in a new role as star witness for the state.

In a clear and at times soft voice, the bodybuilder mostly gave clipped “yes” and “no” answers under questioning Wednesday by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb.

Osundairo spent more than four hours on the witness stand painstakingly recounting how he befriended the actor, and how Smollett came to him in January 2019 and allegedly asked for an unusual favor.

The 28-year-old Lake View man said Smollett asked him to “fake beat him up” and even requested that he use an anti-gay slur and say “MAGA” during the staged homophobic and racist attack.

“I was confused. I looked puzzled. He [Smollett] explained to me that he wanted me to fake beat him up,” testified Osundairo, who met Smollett while he worked as an extra on the Fox drama “Empire” in 2017.

Osundairo told Webb that he and Smollett had a brotherly bond, and that he would procure drugs for the actor, while Smollett would help Osundairo with his budding acting career.

“We became good friends. I would say I would call him my brother,” Osundairo said of the friendship.

“I agreed to do it, because more importantly, I felt indebted to Jussie… I also believed he could help further my acting career,” Osundairo said.

Osundairo said Smollett texted him on Jan. 25, 2019, saying, “Might need your help on the low.”

Later, when the two were in Smollett’s car, Osundairo said the actor asked if he could trust him.

The pair then drove to the Osundairo family’s North Side home where Osundairo’s brother, Olabinjo Osundairo, joined them in the car.

With his mother, Janet Smollett, on his right arm and flanked by other family members and supporters, former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.
With his mother, Janet Smollett, on his right arm and flanked by other family members and supporters, former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Abimbola Osundairo said Smollett handed them a $100 bill for supplies and told the siblings that they should stage a scuffle, tie a noose around Smollett’s neck, pour gasoline on him and run away as the actor fought back.

Two days before the Jan. 29, 2019, incident, Abimbola Osundairo said the three rehearsed the fake attack, which Smollett said he wanted captured by a nearby surveillance camera “for [the] media,” Abimbola Osundairo testified.

The recorded footage didn’t include the alleged staged crime, but it did help Chicago police identify the Osundairos.

Smollett gave the brothers a check for $3,500, which Abimbola Osundairo said he believed was payment for a food and exercise plan he gave the actor, as well as for their help with the staged attack.

Olabinjo Osundairo is also expected to take the stand against 39-year-old Smollett, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly lying about being attacked.

Earlier Wednesday, two CPD detectives said that when Smollett was considered a victim by authorities, he identified one of his attackers as white.

But when the Osundairos were arrested in early February, he changed his story and said the man was “pale skinned,” Det. Robert Graves said.

Graves said when he confronted Smollett about the discrepancy, the actor said: “Well, he acted like he was white by what he said.”

Of the Osundairo brothers, Smollett later said, it “can’t be them, they’re Black as sin,” Graves testified.

Smollett, who is Black and gay, said as he was returning to his Streeterville apartment building that winter night when he heard someone yell “Empire n*****, Empire f*****,” Graves’ partner, Det. Kimberly Murray, said.

“What the f*** you say to me,” Smollett said he replied.

“This is MAGA country,” Smollett said one of his attackers yelled, along with a racial slur, before he was pummeled to the ground, Murray said.

Abimbola Osundairo said Wednesday every slur was scripted by Smollett.

Smollett also told Murray he received a homophobic phone call and a letter with a picture of stick figure with a noose around its neck days before he said he was assaulted.

But Smollett allegedly was less forthcoming when asked to turn over his cellphone and medical records to police, reticence that struck the detectives as odd.

Prosecutor Sean Weiber asked Graves if he’d ever had a victim decline to turn over such evidence. Graves then stood up and pointed at Smollett, seated at the defense table.

“Mr. Smollett is the only one,” he said.

Weiber asked Graves, “Is it fair to say Mr. Smollett lied to you during your reinterview on Feb. 14?”

“Yes,” Graves replied.

Smollett first agreed he would press charges against the Osundairos, but was directed by his attorney not to sign criminal complaints against the brothers during that meeting and never met with detectives again, Graves testified.

Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche said he expected to have Osundairo on the stand for three to four hours when the trial resumes Thursday. Judge James Linn told jurors they should expect the trial to last through Monday.