A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation recently shared with ABC News how the two brothers involved with the case told police that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack on himself as he was upset a threatening letter he received a week prior did not get enough attention.
An official said detectives are actively investigating the allegation but have yet to confirm it to be true.
This weekend, Chicago police are “eager” to re-interview Smollett after releasing the two brothers who were initially identified as persons of interest in the alleged Jan. 29 attack in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
The official said that the brothers, who are not considered suspects in the attack, additionally told police how they were paid to stage the attack.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the brothers shared in a statement.
While the actor is not slated to meet with police, his attorneys “will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf,” according to a Smollett spokeswoman.
Currently, the FBI is investigating the letter, which was sent to the “Empire” studio in Chicago.
As Smollett’s attack was being investigated by police as a possible hate crime, it was discovered that one of the brothers purchased the rope to be used in the attack at a local hardware store.
According to the Chicago-Sun Times, that store was located in Ravenswood, known as the Crafty Beaver.
Smollet informed police that he was walking on the 300 block of East North Water Street in Streeterville around 2 a.m. on January 29th, when two unknown men walked up and attacked him.
They yelled racial as well as homophobic slurs, hitting him on the face, proceeding to pour a chemical substance on him and then putting a rope around his neck.
On Sunday, a CPD spokesman shared:
“While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident.”
Smollet said in an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” how he is p*ssed off and feels attacked that people doubt the validity of his story.
Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, Smollett’s attorneys, released a statement late Saturday addressing the alleged reports that the actor possibly staged the attack.
“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. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
“Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to “unnamed” sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”
Smollett, if convicted of filing a false police report, could face up to three years in prison as it is a felony in Illinois.
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