Police: New information has 'shifted the trajectory' of Jussie Smollett investigation

Sat. February 16, 2019 7:18 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

jussie smollett performs in chicago

photo credit // steven koch / gopride.com

Smollett says he is 'further victimized' by false rumors regarding his assault

Chicago, IL - Chicago police say new information emerged following the interrogation of two brothers in the investigation into the alleged attack of "Empire" star Jussie Smollett. That information has "shifted the trajectory of the investigation," according to police.

Nigerian brothers, Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, were arrested on Wednesday night and interviewed by detectives. Their Chicago apartment located in Lakeview was searched by police. Investigators retrieved shoes, electronic devices, bleach and a red hat, among other items, according to photos of an inventory log first reported by CBS 2 Chicago.

The Osundiros were released on Friday and are no longer considered suspects by police. CWBChicago reported investigators are now focused on Smollett.

Chicago police confirmed they have reached out to Smollett's attorney for a follow-up interview.

On Thursday, ABC 7 Chicago reported police are investigating whether Smollett and the two men staged the attack allegedly because Smollett believed he was being written off of "Empire."

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment released a statement saying, "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."

In an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, Smollett said he was upset that some people questioned whether the attack occurred.

"It's the attackers, but also the attacks," he said. "It's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth, you don't even want to see the truth."

"It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more," Smollett added. "And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now."

On Thursday, high-profile attorney Michael Monico told WGN's "The Roe Conn Show" that he was hired by Smollett. Representatives for the Smollett have denied that Monico represents the actor at this time.

Unnamed sources told CNN on Saturday the new evidence suggests Smollett orchestrated attack. The sources said there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett's neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago.

Smollett could get up to three years in prison for filing a false police report in the state of Illinois.

Smollett, an openly gay African-American who plays a gay character on the Fox hit drama, told police that two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured a liquid on him that smelled like bleach and put a rope around his neck during an attack on Jan. 29 in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.

Since launching the investigation, police consistently described Smollett as a victim of an attack.

Update: (9:30 p.m. 2/16/2019) Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, attorneys for Smollett, issued the following statement to the media:

"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 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."

This story is developing.