The Chicago Police Department rejected two news reports Thursday that said investigators believe the attack reported by Jussie Smollett may have been staged. Meanwhile, Fox denied that Smollett was being written off “Empire.”
The hoax reports originated with two Chicago stations, one of which raised the possibility that Smollett staged the attack with two men to avoid being written off the show.
“Multiple sources tell @ABC7Chicago Eyewitness News Jussie Smollet and the 2 men who are being questioned by police staged the attack — allegedly because his character was being written out of the show Empire,” the affiliate’s reporter, Rob Elgas, tweeted.
Meanwhile, CBS Chicago reported Thursday that police raided the home of two persons of interest in the case on Wednesday night. The site said they are brothers of Nigerian descent who appeared as extras on Smollett’s show, “Empire.” The mens’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said they both know Smollett, CBS Chicago reported.
Schmidt did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Fox did not immediately respond to request for comment about whether the two men appeared on “Empire.”
“Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives,” Chicago PD tweeted Thursday. “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.”
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment added: “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
And Smollet’s rep, Pamela Sharp, told TheWrap: “Jussie is NOT being written off Empire. Today Jussie did answer routine followup questions for Chicago Police Department and continues to cooperate.”
According to De Mar, the men left for Nigeria the day of the attack. De Mar also posted a search warrant receipt, which shows police took bleach, shoes and a laptop.
Twitter sleuths and some news organizations began floating theories that Smollett had faked the attack within days of him reporting it. He said two men beat him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs and referencing “MAGA.” Police said they had no reason to doubt him, but a public disagreement mounted between police and Smollett when he initially declined to hand over his phone. Officers wanted it to confirm that he was speaking to his manager during the attack.
Smollett handed over his phone records this week.
In a statement Tuesday, before the news reports with hoax speculation, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said Smollett had been “doubly victimized” — first in the attack, and then later by “speculation” about the incident from the media.
This information is according to family who says home was ransacked. I asked family why they think police picked the two brothers up for questioning and they replied by saying the men left for #Nigeria the day of the attack. @cbschicago
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019