For three weeks,Jussie Smolletthas maintained that he was attacked by two white men in ski masks. He still does. The difference now? Chicago Police are confirming that the focus of the investigation has changed. Specifically, that what he has said was an attack, was a hoax.
Police say the two men arrested last week –Ola and Abel Osundairo – claim that they were paid $3500 to help Smollett stage the attack. Officials have also released the brothers without charging them. Officials have also reached out to Smollett's attorneys and said they need to talk to him again. As of press time, he has not. Who is speaking out? Smollett’s lawyers.
In a statement, they say Smollett is “angry and devastated” by the suggestion that he was part of a setup. “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,”they note. “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.”
- Read their complete statement HERE.
- How have Smollett’s supporters reacted to the latest developments? With their guard up. DirectorAva Duvernayhas taken to Twitter. “Despite the inconsistencies, I can’t blindly believe Chicago PD,”she writes. “The department that covered up shooting Laquan McDonald over a dozen times? That operated an off-site torture facility? That one? I’ll wait. Whatever the outcome, this won’t stop me from believing others. It can’t.”
- The “Empire” team is still behind him. Showrunner Bretty Mahoney also spoke out via social media saying simply, “I believe and stand by@JussieSmollett. Keep your head up.”
- So what’s next? That depends whom you ask. While officials in Chicago remain silent,TMZ is reportingthat they’re merely getting their ducks in a row and that a grand jury will hear Jussie’s case next week. Who is on the block? No one seems to know (or at least they’re not saying).