At the very end of January, reports shared that Jussie Smollett had been the victim of a brutal hate crime.
He was later arrested on suspicion that he had staged his own attack, though prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
Now, his brother is making a powerful argument in Jussie's defense. And he might have a point.
In a guest post shared by BET, Jussie's older brother, philanthropist Jojo Smullett, speaks out in defense of his brother.
"It has not yet been 90 days since my younger brother, Jussie Smollett, was assaulted on a cold winter night in Chicago," Jojo begins.
"Within less than three months," he notes. "His life has been turned upside down."
Jojo has "witnessed him endure unrelenting attacks to his character and reputation."
"Like so many others," he writes. "This entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault."
He adds that it Jussie has faced "being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him."
"To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement," Jojo notes.
"After several leaks from 'unnamed' police sources," Jojo recalls of how the media narrative turned against Jussie.
"And," he continues. "Despite a long history of wrongful accusations from the Chicago Police Department."
"Many in the media accepted these unconfirmed reports as fact," Jojo laments.
"The numerous police leaks, which prompted an internal Chicago Police investigation, convicted Jussie in the court of public opinion," he observes.
All of this went down "before he even entered a courtroom."
"On February 14, the day that the Osundario brothers were brought in for questioning as suspects," Jojo continues.
He adds: "the Chicago Police Communications Director, in response to leaked sources within the department."
"Had begun spreading the word that Jussie had supposedly staged the attack," Jojo writes.
"The police chief 'has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting,'" Fox News reported.
"'And heir supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate,'" the report read.
"If the CPD had no evidence to support the idea of a hoax," Jojo posits. "Prior to interviewing the Osundarios."
"Then," he reasons. "They base their whole case against Jussie on that interview."
That doesn't sound like a very solid case at all.
"The police chief later admitted that the men made no mention of a hoax," Jojo points out.
Not "until the final hour that they could legally be held."
That sounds incredibly, wildly shady.
"By this time," Jojo says. "Jussie had already refused to sign a complaint against the Osundarios,"
He explains that Jussie was "convinced that these men, one who he had considered a friend and the other an acquaintance, could not be his attackers."
"Most importantly," he continus. "Detectives refused to show Jussie video, photos, or any evidence to prove they were the attackers."
"The fact that these two brothers, who in the final hour confessed to attacking my brother yet say it was Jussie who told them to," Jojo notes.
He laments that this "is all the evidence that the police and the general public needed to be convinced, should be frightening to everyone."
Jojo asks readers to consider whether the public should condemn a man over an accusation police received after hours and hours of interrogations.
(Especially if those police are part of a department as dubious as the CPD)
"Is that all it takes to destroy a lifelong dedication to one’s craft and community?" Jojo asks.
He adds: "Is it really that easy to convince the world of a person’s guilt?"
"Is that all it takes to turn someone’s life upside down in America?" Jojo wants to know.
He suggests: "Simply ask yourself this, 'What if Jussie is telling the truth?'"
"With not one inkling of solid evidence," Jojo continues. "Many believed the false witness testimony from two suspects who turned into witnesses."
He notes that they do so "even though they lacked standard credibility."
"It was under-reported that one of the 'witnesses' had previously been arrested for attempted murder ending with a plea deal for aggravated battery," he adds.
"Or," Jojo adds. "That the brothers repeatedly expressed homophobia on their social media in the past."
Which could give them one hell of a motive for staging an attack on a man who had once paid them.
"Additionally," Jojo says. "It was never reported that they changed their story while under police interrogation."
In addition to pointing out that many in the public don't have all of the facts, he continues.
"Jussie was booked, arrested, and has maintained his innocence the entire time," Jojo points out.
"Following an evaluation by prosecutors," he ads. "Before any court proceedings or a trial, the case was dismissed – dropped completely."
"I think that they, being legally trained and experienced," Jojo suggests. "Determined that the case against Jussie was weak."
"There were lots of things that came out in public to give them concern," Jojo writes.
"After the initial reporting about a 'check' paid to allegedly stage the incident," he cites as an example.
A check "which turned out to have been a check for personal training and nutrition."
Jojo observes that "other inconsistencies came out where the public accusations did not match up against the truth."
Indeed, the Chicago Police Department cited multiple alleged motives for Jussie ... adding a second one after the first one didn't pan out.
We worry when either side of a criminal case is suddenly changing its story.
"The Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department announced publicly," Jojo writes.
The CPD sayd that "that Jussie’s motive in staging an attack was so he could make more money from Empire."
"Fox immediately said that wasn’t true," Jojo points out. "But the police chief never withdrew his accusation."
"The chief also stated as fact that Jussie had sent himself the threatening letter ... weeks before the attack," Jojo recalls.
"The FBI then refuted this claim," he observes. "Again, the chief did not correct his accusations."
"Letting it float for the public to either believe or not," he concludes.
This is a complicated case, but Jojo's words are certainly worth considering as he lays it all out.