***UPDATE*** Chicago PD has released a statement:
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We’ve reached out to the ‘Empire’ cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
Law enforcement reached out to Smollett’s lawyers during the past several hours, Chicago-based criminal defense attorneys Victor P. Henderson and Todd Pugh.
The investigation into the alleged assault on Empire star Jussie Smollett has possibly taken an unexpected turn on Saturday, with CNN reporting that two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation have informed the news organization that Chicago Police believe Smollett orchestrated his attack.
On Wednesday, two brothers with alleged connections to the FOX series were arrested on suspicion but were releaed on Friday without charges. Although sources told CNN that Chicago Police have records of the brothers having purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a Chicago Ace Hardware store, law enforcement officials cited the discovery of “new evidence” as the reason for the release. CNN is also reporting from sources that Chicago Police believe the two men may have been paid by Smollett to commit the assualt, or were directly involved in arranging the attack with Smollett; and that both men are cooperating fully with authorities.
Smollett alleged to authorities that he was the victim of an attack on January 29 by the two men “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs,” who proceeded to pour “an unknown chemical substance” on him and put a rope around Smollett’s neck before fleeing the scene.
On Thursday, ABC’s Good Morning America aired an interview with Smollett where the actor/singer went into detail about the assualt and what life has been like for him since that time. Speaking with interviewer/GMA co-host Robin Roberts, Smollett had this to say when asked about allegation being made that the attack was a hoax:
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more. A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country.”
Smollett’s representative and attorney have not issued a response to CNN’s reporting at the time of this posting.
Portraying the character of Jamal Lyon on FOX‘s long-running and popular prime-time drama since its premiere, the award-winning actor/singer was in Chicago the weekend of the alleged attack to prepare for a concert he was set to perform.