Attorneys for Empire star Jussie Smollett have denied the actor played a part in his own alleged assault.
The statement comes as Chicago police interviewed Smollett again after new evidence came to light following the arrest and subsequent release without charge of two brothers. In a statement to the media, Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said the information received from the individuals questioned “has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
Smollett told police he was attacked by two men in the early hours of January 29 after they shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him. The men reportedly beat Smollett, poured bleach on him, and wrapped a rope around his neck. His attackers fled on foot.
In Smollett’s statement, obtained by the ABC, his attorneys deny his involvement in the incident and say the actor is “angered and devastated” by the recent reports that the brothers are known to him.
“He has now been further victimised by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.
According to local media, one of the brothers had appeared as an extra on Empire. Smollett’s attorneys say the man is actually his personal trainer who he had hired to “ready him physically for a music video.”
The statement continues:
“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 this present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside the investigation, but will continue discussion through official channels.”
The full statement below.
New statement from Jussie Smollett’s attorneys “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.” pic.twitter.com/6YaB6WSJN7
— Joshua Hoyos (@JoshuaHoyos) February 17, 2019
Earlier this week, CBS Chicago published an article which cited a “top source” – apparently investigators – who said the incident was a “staged attack”.
At the time, Guglielmi said media reports about the “Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” adding their supposed sources are “uninformed and inaccurate.”