Police sources say new evidence suggests 'Empire' star orchestrated assault
Last month, it was reported that Jussie Smollett, star of the hit TV show, Empire, had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack at the hands of Donald Trump supporters. Now, it is apparently suspected that his story was a lie.
According to Chicago police, it is believed that Smollett paid two brothers to commit the attack. The so-called assailants, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, from Nigeria, were reportedly paid $3,500 for the attack (which they committed shortly before returning to their home country), and were promised an additional $500 upon their return to the US.
The brothers, who are said to have worked with Smollett as extras on Empire, and are known to attend the same gym as the star, are now said to be cooperating with police, and claim that they rehearsed the attack before it took place on January 29th.
at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City." width="850" height="450" /> Credit: Getty
"We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation," said Chicago police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi.
The exact details of this "shifted trajectory" have not been disclosed, but reports suggest that the brothers have given evidence to suggest that Smollett orchestrated his own attack.
Meanwhile, the actor's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement late Saturday claiming that Smollett is "devastated" by the accusations against him.
"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 said.
"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."
Police had apparently been suspicious of Smollett's story all along, as he seemed particularly keen to point out a camera that had caught the whole attack on video. The camera had actually been facing the wrong way during the attack, but law enforcement still found it suspicious that Smollett had paid such careful attention to where the incident happened.
In light of new evidence, the case is set to go before a grand jury next week.
TMZ claim to have been told by law enforcement that a panel will hear the case very soon, but did not elaborate on who would be facing charges, nor what those charges might be.