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.
But investigators now believe that Smollett may have paid two men to stage the attack, CNN and NBC News reported, citing sources familiar with the investigation.
“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.”
- Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to news outlets Saturday night, saying Smollett was being “further victimized” by accusations that he orchestrated the attack.
The statement went on to say that Smollett will “continue to cooperate” with the Chicago Police Department’s investigation.