Attorneys for Jussie Smollett say there is no truth to reports that the ‘Empire’ actor played a role in an assault on him last month by what he described as two men shouting homophobic and racial slurs.
In a statement late Saturday the lawyers say: “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
His lawyers say that Smollett will continue to cooperate with a Chicago police investigation into the reported attack.
Chicago police earlier Saturday said their investigation of the attack had “shifted” following the interrogation of two men. The brothers from Nigeria were first considered suspects, but then released from police custody Friday without being charged. Smollett’s attorneys say that one of the men was the actor’s personal trainer, hired to prepare him physically for a music video.
On Saturday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CBS Chicago: “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.”
Smollett, who is black and homosexual, has said he was attacked by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” He said they looped a rope around his neck before running away as he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant early on Jan. 29. He said they also poured some kind of chemical on him.
Police have been unable to find surveillance video of the attack.
A spokeswoman for Smollett did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Guglielmi’s comment.