Chicago police reject report 'Empire' actor investigated for staging attack

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Chicago police dismissed a media report on Thursday that officers were investigating whether "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett staged being physically assaulted because he was being written out of the television show.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there was no evidence to support the report by Chicago ABC7 television, which cited multiple unnamed sources.

"(Police Superintendent) Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate," Guglielmi said in a tweet.

Smollett, an openly gay African-American who plays a gay character on the hip-hop drama "Empire," told police that two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs and put a rope around his neck on Jan. 29.

16 PHOTOS
Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
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Jussie Smollett on FOX's Empire
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the 'Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 14 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and director Jussie Smollett in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard and director Jussie Smollett behind the scenes in the 'What is Done' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Nov. 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Taraji P. Henson in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'The Depth of Grief' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 31 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Bryshere Y. Gray and Jussie Smollett in the 'Love All, Trust a Few' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray in the 'Pride' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 10 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Jussie Smollett in the 'Pay For Their Presumptions' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Jussie Smollett, Bryshere Gray, and Trai Byers in the 'The Empire Unposessd' season finale episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: L-R: Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, Bryshere Y. Gray as Hakeem Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon in Season Five of EMPIRE premiering Wednesday, Sept. 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Bryshere Gray, Jussie Smollett and Andre Royo in the 'Slave to Memory' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Dec. 13 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe and Jussie Smollett in the 'Bleeding War' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 18 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Terrel Carter and Jussie Smollett in the 'Evil Manners' episode of EMPIRE airing Wednesday, Oct. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
EMPIRE: Pictured L-R: Jussie Smollett and Gabourey Sidibe in the 'Full Circle' episode of Wednesday, Oct. 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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In an interview with "Good Morning America" that aired on Thursday, Smollett said he was angry that some people doubted his story, and he suggested the disbelief might come from racial bias.

Twentieth Century Fox Television, the producer of "Empire" released a statement saying: "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."

Chicago police are questioning two individuals who surveillance cameras showed were in the area where Smollett said he was assaulted, authorities said on Thursday.

The names of the two men have not been released and police have not found any video footage of the assault, which they say is being investigated as a hate crime.

"They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives," Guglielmi said on Twitter.

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Celebrities react to violent attack on Jussie Smollett
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Celebrities react to violent attack on Jussie Smollett
Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice.
DEAR GOD! Prayers and justice for Jussie Smollett.
This is heartbreaking and terrifying...please pay attention to what’s happening here. Sending all my love to… https://t.co/xAKE4hVjn9
This is so awful. Sending love to @JussieSmollett. 🙌🌈 https://t.co/U3wKFBAXi2
Sending my love and prayers to you @JussieSmollett . This is unacceptable and they will be brought to justice.
I'm just now hearing the news about the senseless hate attack on my #EMPiRE Nephew @JussieSmollett IM SO ANGRY AND… https://t.co/wHE8vGKZDP
This is horrific. What kind of country do we live in. https://t.co/unvzWmo6XD
I saw Jussie Smollett in Miami last week. I can’t believe this happened. It is sad and disgusting and and deplorabl… https://t.co/gC824cErsM
The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.
I’m pissed. Love you @JussieSmollett and your family. https://t.co/DYohyjP0AW
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(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)

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