'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett now suspect, detectives presenting case to grand jury

Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett No Longer Considered a Victim As Authorities Investigate Hate Crime As Potential Hoax Spencer Baculi

February 17 - Chicago police say they want to speak with Smollett.

Smollett, who is African American and openly gay, has said that at about 2 a.m. on January 29, while walking from a Subway sandwich shop to his apartment in the 300 block of East North Water Street, two men walked up, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, declared, "This is MAGA country", hit him and wrapped a rope around his neck. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details. He said that two men beat him while shouting homophobic slurs and "this is MAGA country" in reference to Donald Trump's slogan.

An unnamed police source told Deadline that "The new direction of the investigation is now based on the premise that Mr. Smollett was an active participant in the incident". Smollett could be looking at up to three years behind bars if found guilty of filing a false police report on what authorities initially called a "potential hate crime".

Jussie Smollett No Longer Considered a Victim As Authorities Investigate Hate Crime As Potential Hoax

Regardless, they continued with the scene, screaming that they had seen Smollett on the Fox show and then calling him racial and homophobic slurs.

On Feb. 1, Smollett issued a statement telling people he's OK and thanking them for their support. Police said the heavily redacted files aren't sufficient.

And last week, police picked up the two brothers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport as they returned from Nigeria and questioned them about the attack. They question them about the case. "His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice".

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The producers of "Empire" dispute media reports that Smollett's character, Jamal Lyon, was being written off the show.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press that the meeting was taking place Wednesday afternoon.

Two brothers - Ola and Abel Osundairo - were arrested and released without charges in relation to the incident and were set to have their testimony "locked in" before a grand jury, meaning it would be officially documented.

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The case stems from a DUI stop in which Smollett gave police the wrong name.

The Daily Mail reported on Monday that hours before the alleged attack, Smollett reportedly participated in a play that was similar to the attack that he is accused of orchestrating.

- Chicago police say they're still seeking a follow-up interview with Smollett after receiving new information that "shifted" their investigation of a reported attack on the "Empire" actor. Last week, Guglielmi said media reports about the attack being a hoax were unconfirmed by case detectives.

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However, TMZ reported Tuesday that the number of scenes Smollett was slated to appear in have been slashed. Simonton said Foxx would have no further comment.

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