Days after calling reports that Jussie Smollett staged his own attack “inaccurate,” Chicago police now say the focus of the investigation has changed.
According to Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi, new “information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
Brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo were arrested in connection with the case on February 13 but released without charges after two days of questioning. CNN is reporting that Chicago police now believe Smollett paid the brothers to stage the January 29 attack, wherein he reported being beaten by two men yelling racial and homophobic slurs, had a rope tied around his neck, and was soaked with a chemical substance. Sources connected to the Chicago Police Department told CNN that records prove the men purchased the rope.
In a tweet, Guglielmi said that the questioning has yielded “new evidence” and “detectives have additional investigative work to complete.”
Defense attorney Michael Monico, who has also represented former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, announced on Friday he is now representing Smollett, according to Variety. Lawyers for Smollett have released the following statement:
“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,” the statement read. “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.”