MILWAUKEE — The Chicago police officer called the “key witness” in the Jussie Smollett case during the actor’s first-degree-robbery trial opened the proceedings with some shocking information.
She testified Saturday morning about how Smollett and two other men allegedly staged a fake attack on him on Jan. 29 and used his record to extort money from him.
The prosecution said surveillance cameras at the store where Smollett claimed he was attacked captured the suspects leaving in a car.
Now, one of the suspects was wearing a ski mask during the attack. The defense said he was only wearing a “dark ski mask because it was cold out.”
WATCH: Suspect in Jussie Smollett attack revealed by surveillance camera https://t.co/Kg3RzjWxDQ via @NBCChicago — Chicago Breaking News (@Chi_BreakingNews) October 1, 2018
As Smollett arrived in court Sunday afternoon, a passing protester stood in front of the courtroom holding a sign with a white heart drawn over the word “violence.”
“We need to celebrate Jussie Smollett’s soul and his leadership,” the protester said. “He is courageous. He is super-hero. He is getting body-shamed with a hashtag. That cannot continue.”
The prosecution maintained that Smollett orchestrated the attack, while the defense tried to show the actor’s ability to go about his everyday life without thinking, with the actor’s actor roommate on the stand.
John Konkus, a 22-year department veteran of the Chicago Police Department who was the detective on the case, acknowledged that he found the reported attack to be “very strange” and “very cowardly.”
“When you heard the description of that attack, it just didn’t add up,” he said, adding that none of the motives fit.
Prosecutors said the actor had attacked before in one of the neighborhoods he lives in on the city’s South Side, to the point that police had a record of warrants for his arrest.
“When you think of [Smollett], you think of a performer, you think of a … neighborhood bad guy,” Konkus said. “When you hear it, you just think of this smaller guy with dark colored pants.”
But Konkus said that the actor’s appearance after the attack changed.
“It was not that he was bandaged up,” he said. “It was that there was an item around his neck that is not typical for a person that was jumped.”
Smollett’s roommate helped create the script for the alleged staged attack.
Police later used surveillance footage of the actor to track him through town and point out his car in the hours before and after the reported attack.
Both the actor and his roommate were questioned for more than an hour after officers gathered surveillance images that showed the actor walking westbound on North Sargent Avenue, southbound on West Michigan Avenue and southbound on Ontario Street, and cars entering and leaving the area.
Both the actor and his brother, Jussie Smollett II, were shown the surveillance images and Smollett was shown people walking across the street.
The actor’s lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, shot back at prosecutors earlier in the day, questioning the object recovered from the scene after Smollett supposedly suffered a racial, homophobic and potentially homophobic-motivated attack, what it looked like and how a fingerprint was found on the item.
Lawyers for the actor — who plays the titular character on “Empire” — contend that Smollett staged the attack in order to secure money. Authorities said Smollett paid brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to carry out the attack, with $500 of the money given to Olabinjo and $500 given to Abimbola in a staged Good Morning America interview.
The brothers were charged with disorderly conduct, and Smollett has also been charged with making a false report to police. The attack was never reported to the FBI.
Both the actor and brothers were arrested and later released without charges. Smollett’s attorneys have said the actor was set up by the brothers.