Jussie Smollett has said he’s “angered” and “devastated” after reports claim he paid two brothers to carry out his attack last month.
Attorneys for the Empire star have denied such claims, saying: “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the Chicago police, said that new evidence presented by the Nigerian brothers has “shifted the trajectory of the investigation” as officers seek to re-interview Smollett about the case.
The actor, who is black and gay, claimed he was the victim of a possible hate crime on 29 January. He told police he was attacked by two men who poured bleach on him and put a rope around his neck while shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Reports suggested one of his attackers was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
After scouring hundreds of hours of surveillance video, police eventually tracked down the two brothers who are now said to be co-operating with the investigation as attention shifts to Smollett.
“The new direction of the investigation is now based on the premise that Mr Smollett was an active participant in the incident,” a law enforcement source close to the situation told Deadline, revealing that they’re looking into the possibility that Smollett paid them to buy the rope.
Chicago police have “reached out” to Smollett’s attorney “to request a follow-up interview”.
Days after jumping to the Empire star’s defence, Fox – the network that broadcasts the drama – had no comment.
On Thursday, ABC7 claimed “multiple sources” had said that police were investigating whether the actor and the “two persons of interest” had “staged the attack allegedly because Smollett was being written off of the show.