Chicago police are reportedly investigating whether Jussie Smollett and the two men deemed “persons of interest” in his alleged assault staged the incident but police have come out and denied the reports.
According to ABC7 Eyewitness News in Chicago, multiple sources told them Smollett and the two men might have staged the attack because the actor was being written off “Empire.”
Another report, from CBS Chicago, quoted an unnamed source as saying, “We [investigators] believe the non-cooperating 2 witnesses are co-conspirators in a potentially staged attack.”
Anthony Guglielmi, the Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago PD, tweeted shortly after the reports by the local stations, saying, “Media reports anout [sic] the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
A rep for Fox released a statement, saying, “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand by him.”
Police interviewed the two persons of interest earlier today, one of whom allegedly worked on “Empire” in the past. CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported, “Both men are of Nigerian decent and have appeared as extras on the show. Police took bleach, shoes electronics and more.”
Earlier in the day, a Chicago PD spokesman tweeted, “The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported. They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives. We remain in communication with the alleged victim.”
Jussie Smollett’s first interview since the alleged attack aired Thursday morning, in which the actor told “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts that he hoped the surveillance video of the incident was found, in part so the world could see he fought back.