Jussie Smollett is officially being treated as a suspect by Chicago Police Department.
On Wednesday afternoon, police announced their suspicion that the 36-year-old staged the January 29 attack on himself that shocked the world and said it was now presenting evidence to a grand jury to consider weighing charges.
They are asking that he be charged with filing a false police report, a Class 4 felony which carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.
In a tweet, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: ‘Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony).
‘Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.’
The announcement came as video footage emerged of the two Nigerian brothers Smollett is accused of paying to stage the attack buying ski masks, a red hat, and gloves in a store the day before it happened.
The footage was obtained by CBS on Wednesday.
It was taken on January 28 and shows brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo inside what looks like a drug store buying the masks and one hat.
Smollett told police originally that he was attacked by two masked assailants who punched him, poured bleach on him, tied a noose around his neck and called him ‘Empire n****r f****t’.
He also said they told him ‘This is MAGA country!’ before running away. No footage has ever emerged of the incident.
In the video taken inside the store the day earlier, the brothers look calm as they bring the items to the register.
Abel, whose full name is Abimbola, is dressed in a blue plaid jacket. About 30 seconds into the video, he puts his hood up while standing at the register.
His younger brother Ola, who once appeared on Empire as an extra, is in a green jacket.
Once they had dumped their haul on the register, they looked at one another and waited to be served.
For four-and-a-half minutes, they stand and watch as the cashier bags up their items which included gloves, bobble hats and sunglasses.
Abel put his gloves on to leave the store after he paid cash for everything.
As they waited for the items to be bagged up, Abel got out his phone and appeared to be typing and looking through images.
He and Ola maintained conversation throughout.
The brothers were picked up at the Chicago O’Hare Airport on Wednesday night as they returned from Nigeria.
They flew there on January 29, hours after the Smollett attack and a day after they were filmed in the store.
Once in police custody last week, they told police Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry out the attack and that he also told them where to buy the rope that was put around his neck.
That was purchased in a separate store, according to police sources.
The video was shared on Wednesday as Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and police in Chicago.
A grand jury had been scheduled to hear testimony from the two brothers on Tuesday but it was canceled at the last minute.
Smollett, who maintains he did not know his attackers and that it was a racist and homophobic ambush, maintains he is telling the truth.
Police seized a red hat from the brothers’ home along with ski masks when they raided it last week.
Smollett said his attackers were wearing masks but there was not a description of a red hat in the initial reports.
Police have since shared their belief that at least one of them was wearing a red hat at the time of the attack.
Earlier on Wednesday, DailyMail.com learned that Kimberly Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney in charge of the case, recused herself because she spoke with members of Smollett’s family in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
‘Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident.
‘Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week, State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor,’ a spokesman for her office said.
Smollett was named as a suspect on Wednesday after it emerged he once lied to police by pretending to be his younger brother.
In 2007, when he was pulled over for a DUI, Smollett told the officers that he was his younger brother, Jake.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail – Jennifer Smith