CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett’s attorneys said reports claiming the “Empire” actor planned his own attack on Jan. 29 “further victimized” him and were lies, according to a Saturday night statement.
Smollett reported two men beat him up, tied a rope around his neck, said racial and homophobic slurs, threw an unidentified chemical substance on him and yelled, “This is MAGA [Make America Great Again] country,” at him in January.
“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,” attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said according to NewNowNext. “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.”
The statement comes following reports that two Chicago Police Department (CPD) sources believed Smollett paid the suspects to help him plan his own attack, according to CNN. The sources said records showed the two brothers purchased the rope found on Smollett’s neck at a Chicago hardware store.
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The Nigerian brothers were released Friday after getting arrested for suspicion of assault and battery.
“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,” CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement Sunday to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
Guglielmi said previously that media reports claiming the attack was a hoax were “unconfirmed” and the “supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate,” on Twitter Thursday.
One of the “purported suspects” was Smollett’s personal trainer who prepared him for a music video, according to the attorneys’ statement.
One of the suspects worked on “Empire.”
Pugh and Henderson did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.