By Talia Kaplan
Published April 23, 2019
Kevin Graham, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, told "America's Newsroom" Tuesday that “one of the things that is troubling” in the Jussie Smollett case is that it “never went to court."
That meant, he said, that Abel and Ola Osundairo, the brothers accused of attacking Smollett in January — then later accused of helping him stage the alleged hate crime hoax — will not get the chance to try to get their names cleared.
Graham made the statements shortly after the Osundairo brothers filed a defamation lawsuit against the "Empire" star's attorneys, Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos, and Geragos' firm.
"They want to have their names cleared. They want to see justice served. They want to have the truth come out so that the people of Chicago and the people of Cook County know what actually occurred,” said Graham.
He added, “I know that Jussie Smollett's attorneys have done everything they could to keep this out of the courtroom. We certainly have a problem here in Cook County because the state's attorney has dropped all charges. (That) leads to other problems. And we certainly encourage wanting to get to the truth and to get people to understand what occurred."
The defamation suit alleges that Geragos and his firm continued to say publicly in widely reported statements that the Osundairo brothers "led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett," even though they allegedly knew that wasn't true.
The brothers are seeking punitive damages as well as lost income in the lawsuit.
"That is why today we are taking action in federal court," the Osundairos' attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said Tuesday. "We want to end these malicious attacks and ensure that those responsible for continuing to destroy the reputation of the Chicago Police Department and Abel and Ola Osundairo are held accountable."
Geragos and Glandian slammed the suit, telling Fox News, "At first we thought this comical legal document was a parody. Instead this so-called lawsuit by the brothers is more of their lawyer-driven nonsense, and a desperate attempt for them to stay relevant and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated. While we know this ridiculous lawsuit will soon be dismissed because it lacks any legal footing, we look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public."
In January, Smollett told authorities that two masked men attacked him, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. The actor, who is black and openly gay, said the masked men beat him, made racist and homophobic comments and yelled, "This is MAGA country" before fleeing the scene. Surveillance video reportedly revealed the Osundairo brothers purchased the rope allegedly used in the attack.
Smollett was later arrested for allegedly filing a false police report and faced 16 counts of disorderly conduct. The charges against the actor were dropped. Smollett has maintained his innocence and insists the attack was real. The city of Chicago has since sued the actor in an effort to recoup resources spent investigating the alleged hoax.
“I look forward to the court case where we can find out and the people of Chicago can find out what happened,” said Graham responding to Tuesday's filing by the Osundairo brothers.
On "America's Newsroom," Graham also weighed in on the recent violence in Chicago. Police said they arrested more than 30 teenagers last Wednesday after large groups of high school students caused disruptions and started fights in downtown Chicago. Graham said he thinks incidents like that are happening in Chicago because teenagers feel they can get away with it, in part because charges against Smollett were dropped.
“These kids are emboldened because there doesn't seem to be a consequence for their actions. And we want to change that narrative. We want the new mayor to back up the police and we want to do our job. We want to keep this city safe but we can't do it by ourselves,” said Graham, who added that there has been an increased police presence in downtown Chicago in light of the recent violence.
The Associated Press and Fox News' Sasha Savitsky and Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.