The “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is under investigation for possibly staging his own attack, police sources told The Chicago Sun-Times.
The Chicago Police Department has been investigating whether Smollett was the victim of a possible hate crime last month but are now looking at whether Smollett paid two brothers he knew from his show to stage the attack, The Sun-Times reported.
The two brothers were detained and questioned last week but have since been released and are no longer considered suspects.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi stopped short of saying that Smollett is no longer considered a victim but said police learned new evidence during their interrogation of the brothers that “shifted the trajectory of the investigation” and police now want to follow up with Smollett.
Smollett denied allegations:
Smollett has denied previous reports that the attack was staged, calling the allegations “ridiculous.”
Smollett told police he was walking at around 2 am on January 29 when two men yelling racial and homophobic slurs beat him, threw bleach on him, and put a rope around his neck.
The two brothers who had been considered suspects were detained after returning from a trip to Nigeria immediately after the alleged assault.
A police source told The Sun-Times that investigators discovered one of the brothers bought a piece of rope at a hardware store before the attack.
Smollett’s attorney denied the allegation that he staged his attack in a statement through his attorney.
“[Smollett] has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement read. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
An attorney for Smollett said in a statement that the actor would not meet with Chicago police Monday.