The sole Black member of a jury that convicted Jussie Smollett of lying to police about an alleged attack he faced in 2019 said the actor’s story about the incident just didn’t make sense. Juror Andre Hope was particularly confused by the fact that he kept a noose, which was allegedly used in the attack, around his neck to show police.
“As an African American person, I’m not putting that noose back on at all,” Hope said.
On Thursday, the former “Empire” actor was foundon five of six counts of lying to police on January 29, 2019. Smollett, 39, claimed that early that morning he was attacked by two men yelling racist and homophobic slurs. The actor told police the men tossed an unknown chemical substance on him before placing a noose around his neck, which Smollett wore home, took off and then put back on when police arrived.
In an interview with WLS-TV, Hope, 63, said the jury was thorough in reviewing the details before handing over the verdicts — they spent 9 1/2 hours deliberating — but they never disagreed on the verdict.
“Two o’clock in the morning. Cold outside. When you just use your common sense as what’s there, yeah it just, it didn’t add up,” Hope said.
However, he said he wished there were more Black people on the jury.
“Because how can we say that this is a jury of your peers when there’s only one African American?” Hope said. “And there were plenty there, so you could’ve gotten two, three four. African Americans can handle the truth, too. And we can give an impartial judgement on a case.”
During the trial, brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo testified that Smollett paid them $3,500 to help him stage the attack.
Since his arrest, Smollett hasfaking the attack. While on the stand, the actor testified that he and Abel were in a sexual relationship before the alleged attack, a claim Abel has denied. Smollett said he only texted the brothers about scheduling a training session that night and that he was truly attacked.
“There was no hoax,” Smollett said.
Smollett’s charges are listed as class 4 felonies, and he faces up to three years in prison. He is free on bond while he waits to be sentenced, CBS Chicago reported.
While Hope said he believed the prosecution did provide overwhelming evidence against Smollett, he still wonders about the actor’s motive.
“I still have not figured out a motive for why he did, why this had to even happen,” Hope said. “He was a star.”
Victoria Albert contributed to reporting