UPDATE, 2/16/19: According to two law enforcement sources with intimate knowledge of the case who spoke to CNN, Chicago police now believe Jussie Smollett may have “paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported last month.”
The two men are Nigerian brothers, both of whom were reportedly employed by Smollett’s show “Empire.” Sources tell CNN that the two men are now fully cooperating with police.
TMZ reports that one of the brothers turned his phone over to police and logs show a call to Smollett in the “vicinity” of the attack before it happened.
Various sources in the Chicago PD have told TMZ almost from the beginning there was wide sentiment Jussie’s version of events were false, despite the party line that he was the victim of a crime.
See the original story below:
Empire star Jussie Smollett has been hospitalized after he was the victim of an alleged hate crime this Tuesday morning in Chicago.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett was approached by two men wearing ski masks and were yelling “racial and homophobic slurs.” They proceeded to beat Smollett and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him.
The men then reportedly put a rope around his neck before feeling on foot. Smollett was able to get himself to a hospital where he’s listed in “good condition.” The Chicago PD characterized the incident as a “racially-charged assault and battery.” TMZ, which first reported the story, said the two suspects were white men.
Just before the assault, one of the suspects reportedly said, “Aren’t you that f—ot Empire n—er?” Before the men escaped, they also allegedly yelled “This is MAGA country.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, police said that given the severity of the allegations, “we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”
Chicago Police Department just sent out this statement re:
Jussie Smollett pic.twitter.com/DxQswZn8xd
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 29, 2019
From the Police statement:
A 36 year old man was walking … when two unknown offenders approached him and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs towards him. The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim. At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck. The offenders fled the scene.
Smollett, who is 35, first publicly talked about his homosexuality on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2015, saying that he was never closeted.
“There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” he said, adding that his previous decision not to talk about his personal life was never mean to “hide or deny who God made me.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) said they have reached out to Smollett to offer him any help he needs.
“Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world,” the statement read.
Featured image via screen grab/The Wendy Williams Show