(CNN/Gray News) – New evidence suggests actor Jussie Smollett orchestrated his own attack, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation. The actor’s attorneys continue to deny he “played a role” in the alleged attack.
The sources told CNN that Chicago police believe Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The “Empire” star said he was attacked early Jan. 29 by two men who were yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.
He said the attackers put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
Two Nigerian brothers were arrested Wednesday, then released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.”
The sources told CNN that the two men are now fully cooperating with law enforcement.
On Saturday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told Chicago TV station WBBM: “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.”
WBBM cited two unnamed sources as saying at least one of the brothers questioned by police bought the rope used in the incident, at Smollett’s request. Those sources said Smollett also paid for the rope, according to WBBM.
The Associated Press reported late Saturday night that Smollett’s attorneys said there was “no truth” to the reports their client was involved in the alleged attack.
Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he said was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Thursday.
During the interview, he expressed frustration at not being believed.