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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Andrew Blankstein
Jussie Smollett, the actor of "The Empire", which one could doubt that he is accused of hate crime, is now suspected of filing a false police report, which is a crime, said Chicago police Wednesday.
"Jussie Smollett is now officially listed as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (class 4 crime)," Anthony Guglielmi, spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, wrote in a tweet. .
He added that the detectives "presently present evidence before a grand jury of Cook County".
Guglielmi told NBC News on Wednesday that Smollett's lawyers had been talking to prosecutors in the morning.
The actor, 36, black and homosexual, filed a report on January 29 with the Chicago Police Department, claiming that he had been assaulted by two masked men who had uttered racist slurs and homophobic. He also testified that his assailants had given him what he thought was bleach and put the rope around his neck.
The police investigated the alleged attack as a "possible hate crime", and some celebrities, including members of the "Empire" cast, and gay rights advocates gathered on social media for express their support for Smollett.
But other social media users began to question his claims when police said they were not able to find a video of the incident after viewing a video. multitude of videos from many surveillance cameras in the upscale neighborhood of Streeterville in Chicago, where the attack would have occurred.
Guglielmi told NBC News that the investigation into the alleged attack had asked for "considerable" resources from the police. He said that at one point, the department had 12 detectives who watched surveillance videos.
On January 30, police released photos of a surveillance camera located near where Smollett said he was attacked, showing two men who, according to police, were "potentially interesting people" .
The two men were arrested on February 13 and interrogated. They were released two days later, Friday, without charges. The police stated that the two brothers, who were brothers, were no longer suspected in the case and cooperated with the investigation.
On Saturday, a police source said that the investigation had focused on whether the actor had paid the two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, for staging an assault. The investigators had discovered that the brothers had bought the rope used in the so-called attack.
Guglielmi said the investigators wanted another interview with Smollett.
Smollett did not speak to the police on Monday or Tuesday. However, Ola and Abel Osundairo met police and prosecutors in a criminal court building on Tuesday, police spokesman Tom Ahern said.
The same afternoon, the police investigated a denunciation indicating that Smollett had been seen with the Osundairo brothers the night of the attack.
Also Tuesday, the Chicago District Attorney General, Cook County Lawyer Kimberly Foxx, is challenged after being brought to "address potential issues of impartiality based on the knowledge of potential witnesses in the case, "a spokesman for Foxx. office said in an email. Another prosecutor from his office will charge.
Smollett told police that he was on the phone with his manager during the alleged attack. The latter said he heard the attackers say: "This is the country of MAGA". The actor refused to hand over his cell phone to the police, but then handed investigators a PDF file containing a short list of his calls.
On Wednesday, Fox refuted a TMZ story, claiming that Smollett's scenes in the series were "being slashed" from nine to four.
"Jussie Smollett continues to be an accomplished professional on set and, as we said before, he's not out of the show," said 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment in a statement.
In his first interview on the incident last week, the actor told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he was angry at the alleged attack and was that people suspected him.
"I have the impression that if I had said that it was a Muslim, a Mexican or a black, I think the unbelievers would have me far more supported, which says a lot about the current situation in our country "says Smollett.