CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago detectives suspect "actor" of the "Empire" Jussie Smollett of filing a false police report when he said he was a victim of a police report. A racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago at the end of last month, a police official said Wednesday.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi also tweeted on Wednesday that detectives and two brothers, initially considered suspects in the Jan. 29 attack, had testified before a grand jury.
Smollett's lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, met with prosecutors and police earlier Wednesday afternoon. It is unclear what was discussed or if Smollett attended the meeting. The lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the role of Jamal Lyon in the famed Fox TV show, said he was attacked by two masked men around 2 am on Jan. 29 while he was out. he was returning home from a Subway sandwich shop in downtown Chicago. He said they beat him, made racist and homophobic comments and shouted, "This is a MAGA country" – an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again – before escaping by a rope.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued a statement Wednesday stating that Smollett "continued to be an accomplished professional on the set" and that his character was not behind the show. The statement follows reports that Smollett's role was reduced in the middle of the police investigation into the alleged attack.
The investigators watched hundreds of hours of private and public surveillance videos in the area where Smollett said he was attacked, but was unable to film the blows. They found and broadcast images of two people they said they wanted to interview. And last week police recovered the two brothers at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago as they returned from Nigeria and interrogated them about the attack. They also searched the men's apartment.
Abimbola "Abel" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, who identified several media outlets, were detained for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett before being released on Friday. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said last week that media reports that the attack was a hoax were not confirmed by the investigators, but on Saturday he said that the men had provided information that "had changed the trajectory of the investigation". interview with Smollett.
Osundairos' lawyer Gloria Schmidt did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Associated Press.
Smollett's lawyers said the actor was angry and "victimized" by reports that he could have played a role in the organization of the attack.
"Nothing is further from the truth and anyone who claims otherwise is lying," Pugh and Henderson said in a statement Saturday.
Anne Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for Smollett's lawyers, said she "would maintain an active dialogue with the Chicago police on her behalf." She did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Cook County attorney general Cook County attorney Kim Foxx recused himself from the investigation on Tuesday, according to a one-sentence statement by a spokeswoman.
"As a precaution, the decision to recuse itself was made to deal with possible issues of impartiality based on familiarity with potential witnesses in the case," said spokeswoman Tandra Simonton. She did not explain why Foxx was aware of anyone in the case and she said that Foxx would have no other comments. Foxx's first assistant, Joe Magats, will oversee the file, the office said.