“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,” Smollett’s attorneys Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said in a statement.
“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.”
Various reports out of Chicago, citing police sources, allege that Smollett orchestrated the January 29th attack; the two men now implicated in the attack, Nigerian brothers who appeared on Empire and worked out with Smollett, are cooperating with police regarding the case.
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” Smollett’s lawyers continued. “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.”
Smollett claimed that two men wearing red hats attacked him, yelled racial slurs, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck as he walked back to his Chicago apartment. Police later determined the two men were Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were arrested but ultimately released following an interrogation.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Gugliemli tweeted Friday, “Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete.”
While police are still investigating the attack, CBS Chicago reports that Smollett hired the two brothers to stage the attack, as well as purchase the rope and bleach used in the hate crime. The actor allegedly paid the brothers $3,500 to commit the attack, with an additional $500 promised after the brothers returned from a trip to Nigeria that happened to begin January 29th, hours after the early morning attack.
A rep for the Chicago police told TMZ, “We have some information that needs to be corroborated and verified with the Empire cast member before we can answer this question. After new developments, we’ve reached out to his attorney and requested additional time to interview him.”