- Chicago police are reportedly investigating whether an alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was orchestrated.
- Investigators now believe Smollett may have paid two men to stage the assault, CNN and NBC News reported Saturday, citing law-enforcement sources.
- A police department spokesman told INSIDER there are “some developments in the investigation” and detectives are seeking a follow-up interview with Smollett.
- Smollett has alleged that two men assaulted him, tied a rope around his neck, poured an unknown chemical on him, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs.
The Chicago Police Department is reportedly pivoting its investigation into an alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to focus on whether Smollett himself orchestrated the incident, multiple news outlets reported Saturday evening.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told INSIDER that investigators have requested another interview with Smollett in light of new information, and have been in touch with his attorney.
“There are some developments in the investigation and we are now interested in speaking to the Empire cast member again,” Guglielmi said. He added that he couldn’t confirm or deny the media reports suggesting Smollett’s attack was staged.
Smollett, 36, alleged that on January 29, two men assaulted him, tied a rope around his neck, poured an unknown chemical on him, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs, before running away.
Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to news outlets Saturday night, saying Smollett was being “further victimized” by accusations that he orchestrated the attack.
“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,” attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”
The statement went on to say that Smollett will “continue to cooperate” with the Chicago Police Department’s investigation.
TOMORROW: An @ABC EXCLUSIVE: @RobinRoberts sits down one-on-one with @JussieSmollett who says he’s "pissed off" after being attacked in possible hate crime. “How do you not believe that? It's the truth." See the interview TOMORROW on @GMA. https://t.co/b5efiOJ8L8 pic.twitter.com/bpvnHUnz8W
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 13, 2019
Chicago police had arrested two brothers as part of the investigation into the alleged assault on Wednesday, but released them without charges on Friday.
Guglielmi announced after the two men’s release that police received “new evidence” after interrogating them, and that detectives have “additional investigative work to complete.”
The brothers told detectives that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack, and that they bought the rope at a hardware store, CBS News reported Saturday, citing a source close to the investigation.
As recently as Friday, the Chicago Police Department had maintained there was “no evidence to say that this is a hoax” and that Smollett “continues to be treated by police as a victim, not a suspect.”
Smollett has denied accusations that the assault was a hoax. He appeared this week on “Good Morning America,” saying he was hurt by those who doubted his allegations.
“It’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth – you don’t even want to see the truth,” he said.
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