Two men in connection with the alleged staged attack of Empire actor Jussie Smollett could be charged as early as Friday, according to a report.
CBS 2 investigative journalist Brad Edwards, citing a source with intimate knowledge of the Chicago Police Department’s investigation into the matter, reports the alleged attack on Smollett was “potentially orchestrated” by the actor and the two men, who are persons of interest in the case. A spokesperson for the Chicago police told Edwards that CBS 2’s report and others are “unconfirmed” at this time.
The “persons of interest” are brothers of Nigerian descent who worked on Empire and are in police custody, being questioned about their connection to the attack. A lawyer for the brothers told CBS 2 that the pair could be charged on Friday. “They were actually detained at customs at O’Hare airport yesterday around 5:45 p.m.,” Gloria Schmidt, the brothers’ attorney, said. “They had no idea what was going on, and they’ve been detained since then.”
CBS 2 reports:
Following a police raid, the front door of their home is busted off its frame. Belongings are thrown across the living room. Bedroom doors are damaged and clothes tossed everywhere.
BREAKING:Police raided the home of two persons of interest in Jussie Smollett case last night. Both men are of Nigerian decent and have appeared as extras on the show. Police took bleach, shoes electronics and more.Officers asked family if they knew #Jussiesmollett. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/PDSFtf5jwb
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 14, 2019
MORE: This is inside the home of two men in police custody listed as persons of interest. According to family they left for Nigeria the same day (but hours after) the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett. @cbschicago #JussieSmollette #Empire pic.twitter.com/5QzdR89VIr
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 15, 2019
The brothers were returning from a trip to Nigeria, their attorney said. As they were picked up by police at O’Hare, officers were at their home, taking several items and leaving behind an inventory list of some of the items taken. The list includes a black face mask hat, an Empire script, a phone, receipts, a red hat and bleach.
“When they first learned about what happened to him they were horrified. This is someone they know. This is someone they’ve worked with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that,” Schmidt continued.
Schmidt confirmed to CBS 2 that the brothers were extras on Empire and occasionally worked out with Smollett.
“They are really baffled why they are people of interest,” the lawyer said. “They really don’t understand how they even got information that linked them to this horrific crime, but they are not guilty of it.”
On Thursday, Chicago police Anthony Guglielmi said detectives were questioning the two individuals, but said neither of them were “considered suspects at this time.”
The men were spotted on surveillance cameras in the Chicago neighborhood where the alleged assault occurred, according to Guglielmi.
The developments come as law enforcement continues to investigate the case, which began with Smollett telling police two masked individuals spewed racist and homophobic slurs at him and doused him with an unknown chemical substance on January 29. The 36-year-old also told police the alleged assailants placed a thin rope around his neck and yelled “This is MAGA country” before fleeing the scene.
Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday, Smollett claimed his attackers were motivated by his public criticism of against President Donald Trump and his policies. “I come really, really hard against 45. I come really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue,” he told interviewer Robin Roberts.
Chicago police said Monday they were unable to criminally investigate the matter after Smollett turned over phone records that were redacted. “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” said police. “Detectives may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”
Smollett and members of his family have maintained the actor has been honest about the alleged incident through the investigation, claiming his story has been the same throughout the investigation. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” the actor said in a statement to ESSENCE magazine. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”