It's over claims that the Empire actor filed a false police report
An investigation into the alleged homophobic and racist attack against Empire actor Jussie Smollett has “shifted’ focus according to the Chicago Police Department investigating the incident, amid continuing claims the attack may have been staged.
Now, TMZ reports that a grand jury has been assembled to decide whether the Empire actor orchestrated his own attack.
According to the website, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo – the two Nigerian brothers and reported Empire extras who said they conspired with Smollett to carry out the attack – are set to testify before a grand jury.
Last month, Smollett alleged that he was attacked in a shocking racist and homophobic assault, with police later confirming that the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime on January 29.
The Osundairo brothers were released without charge on Saturday (February 16). Chicago Police Department’s Chief Communications Officer, Anthony Guglielmi, revealed that “new evidence” had been found in relation to the incident.
Gugliemi tweeted: “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.”
It was revealed that police were seeking to interview Smollett again and that the investigation had “shifted” focus based on new “information received.”
An additional statement from Gugliemi read: “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. We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
CBS reported claims that the Osundairo brothers were paid $3500 to help stage the attack before leaving for Nigeria, with both promised an additional $500 on their return.
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, released a statement about the allegations of staging.
The statement read: “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.
Smollett gained fame for his portrayal of musician Jamal Lyon on Empire, which began in 2015. Earlier this week, writers of Empire released a statement denying Smollett was being written out of the show.