CHICAGO — Chicago police and representatives for Jussie Smollett were keeping quiet Sunday, Feb. 17 about the investigation into a reported attack on the “Empire” actor.
Police said Saturday that the investigation had “shifted” after detectives questioned two brothers about the attack and released them without charges. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police had reached out to Smollett’s attorney to request a follow-up interview with him.
Pam Sharp, a spokeswoman for Smollett, said Sunday that there were no updates “as of now.” Another spokeswoman, Anne Kavanaugh, said she couldn’t comment on whether Smollett had agreed to another interview.
Meanwhile, TMZ reported a grand jury will hear the case early this week, according to law enforcement sources.
Sources told TMZ the two brothers who were arrested and then released were staying somewhere around the Loop in downtown Chicago under the watchful eye of police, so no one could get to them. TMZ was told police especially want to make sure Smollett does not contact the brothers.
According to TMZ, when police raided the brothers’ home, they found magazines with pages torn out. Authorities were trying to determine if the missing pages were connected to the threatening letter that was sent to Smollett eight days before the alleged attack.
Sources told TMZ early on in the investigation, they asked Smollett if he’d sign complaints against the men who attacked him, and he was clear that he would, but when he found out the brothers were the ones in custody, TMZ was told he said he knew them, felt bad for them and declined to sign the complaints. Sources told TMZ although police believe the brothers purchased the rope that was around Smollett’s neck after the incident, there was no surveillance video from the hardware store because it erases after a week.
TMZ said police tracked the brothers down through their movements in arriving and leaving the scene around Smollett’s apartment building. According to TMZ, they left in either a cab or an Uber. Officers tracked the vehicle and the brothers got out on their way home and into another vehicle. As one source put it, “It was almost like a bad spy movie.” TMZ was told when police picked the brothers up at O’Hare International Airport, the officers had three warrants for each of them, one to seize their phones.
Sources told TMZ there were red flags from the get-go. Police were extremely suspicious when Smollett took them out to the area where he said he was attacked and pointed to an obscure camera saying how happy he was that the attack was on video. Turns out, the camera was pointing in the wrong direction. Police thought it was weird he knew the location of that camera, TMZ said.
TMZ was told investigators didn’t believe the alleged attackers screamed, “This is MAGA country,” because, “Not a single Trump supporter watches ‘Empire.'”
TMZ was told there was no video of a “rehearsal” of the attack in the street.
Smollett and his attorney have vehemently denied the attack was staged, maintaining this was a hate crime. Smollett reported last month that he was attacked by men who yelled homophobic and racial slurs. Smollett’s lawyers said late Saturday that the actor felt “victimized” by reports that he played a role in the assault. They also said Smollett would continue cooperating with police.