Brothers say Jussie Smollett paid them to carry out alleged attack: sources
The previously suspected brothers in an alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett say they were paid by Smollett to carry out the alleged actions, sources close to the investigation told CBS News and CNN, while Chicago police now say the investigation has changed “trajectory.”
On Saturday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CBS Chicago: “We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation. We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
Chicago police late Friday released without charges two Nigerian brothers they had detained for questioning earlier in the week.
Smollett, who is black and gay, has said he was attacked by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” He said they looped a rope around his neck before running away as he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. He said they also poured some kind of chemical on him.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett Attack Rumours
A source close to the investigation told CBS News that the brothers said they were paid by Smollett to carry out the alleged attack, and bought the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a nearby hardware store and have evidence of the sale.
CNN reported the same information from two of its own sources close to the investigation.
All sources said the brothers, identified by police as Ola and Abel Osundairo, are now co-operating with the investigation.
Ola Osundairo has appeared on Empire as a prisoner in season two of the show, and one of the brothers is Smollett’s personal trainer, whom he hired to help him get physically ready for a music video, Smollett’s attorney’s said in a statement.
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, also responded to the allegation in a statement, saying that Smollett is “angered and devastated” by the reports.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement read. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
The statement also said Smollett will continue to cooperate with police.
Smollett gave an interview to ABC News, which aired Thursday, in which he said he was “pissed” at people who did not believe he was attacked.
He also played a concert in West Hollywood, California on February 2, in which he gave an emotional speech and said he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.
WATCH: Chicago police call reports of hoax in Jussie Smollett case are ‘unconfirmed by detectives’
Reports of the assault gained Smollett support on social media, including from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Producers of Empire have supported Smollett, and said his character on the show, James Lyon, was not being written off.
Police said they combed surveillance video in the heavily-monitored area but were unable to find any footage of the attack. However, they have released grainy images of two people they said were in the area at the time and they want to question.
Smollett gave redacted phone records to police, who said they were not sufficient for a criminal investigation. Smollett said he redacted information to protect the privacy of contacts and people not relevant to the attack.
-With files from the Associated Press
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