Jussie Smollett ‘Angered and Devastated’ by Reports He Orchestrated Apparent Hate Attack
The Empire star released a statement through his lawyers on Saturday after the Chicago Police Department said it "shifted the trajectory" if its investigation after conducting interview with Smollett's suspected attackers. Both men arrested in connection with the incident have been released without charges. Police have said, however, that Smollett is still being viewed as a victim at this time.
"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the statement from lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said. "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."
The statement continued, "One of these purported suspects was Jussie's personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. 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."
Smollett said in the document that he and his legal team "anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department" about the investigation. They "will continue to cooperate."
On Saturday, Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police Department, told ET Online, "We can confirm 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."
CBS News reported that unnamed sources confirmed to them Smollett orchestrated the attack with the two suspects. The actor has not directly addressed those claims, and said he does not intend to do so. A similar report surfaced on CNN, stating that law enforcement sources believe Smollett paid the two men to orchestrate the attack on him. Some outlets suggested he did it after being written off Empire, a suggestion Fox quickly debunked.