Jussie Smollett will not meet with Chicago police on Monday to discuss the ongoing investigation of a reported attack on the “Empire” star, a spokesman for his attorney said.
“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate,” an e-mailed statement from public relations consultant Anne Kavanagh reads. “Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf. We have no further comment today.”
The announcement comes a day after Smollett’s newly hired attorney, Todd S. Pugh, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the actor expected “to [be] back online tomorrow with the investigators.”
Pugh said on Sunday that a possible sit-down with investigators would depend on “scheduling availability.” Monday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department will “look forward to continuing the dialogue with his attorneys and finding a mutually beneficial time for him and detectives to sort through new information from the investigation.”
The police department has said for weeks Smollett was the victim of a possible hate crime last month in Streeterville, but investigators may now be probing whether Smollett paid two brothers he knew from “Empire” to stage the attack, law enforcement sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police have been trying to arrange a “follow-up interview” with Smollett, after questioning the brothers, who were taken into custody and questioned Wednesday at O’Hare Airport after they got off a return flight from Nigeria. Information from the interview “has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” Guglielmi said Monday.
The two brothers issued a statement to CBS2 Monday, saying: “We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
Smollett has told police he was walking in the 300 block of East North Water Street about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 when two men walked up to him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured a substance — possibly bleach — on him and put a “thin, light rope” around his neck. The incident has been investigated as a hate crime.
Smollett has publicly expressed outrage at speculation that he may have set up the attack, including a lengthy interview with Good Morning America host Robin Roberts during which he called out “haters” who doubted his account of what happened. Smollett has acknowledged that one of the two men interviewed by police had served as his physical trainer.
The actor said he was reluctant to call police immediately after the attack because of the attention it would receive. Smollett’s manager, who said he was on the phone with the actor at the time of the assault, called authorities 40 minutes later. Smollett has since been interviewed by police and turned over redacted records from his cellphone.