Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault.
Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said that it was treating him as a victim, but that appears to have changed in the last 24 hours.
“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,” said department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.”
Investigators arrested two Nigerian brothers on Wednesday night, and held them for questioning for two days. One of the men worked as an extra on “Empire,” and both know Smollett from the show, according to their attorney.
According to local media reports, the brothers were confronted with evidence that they had purchased the rope at an Ace hardware store. The brothers were released late on Friday, and are now cooperating with police.
CNN reported on Saturday that police believe that Smollett paid the two men to attack him. The network cited two unnamed law enforcement sources.
Smollett’s reps have called previous reports that the attacked was staged “ridiculous.” Fox has also stood by the actor.
Jussie Smollett from 'Empire'
Jussie Smollett from 'Empire'
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 25th annual Children's Defense Fund Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on December 3, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: #NextPepsiArtist Jussie Smollett attends the Pepsi Empire viewing party with at Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC on December 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Pepsi)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 14: Jussie Smollett, the face of Sean John 2015 Fall/Holiday campaign, visits Macy's at Lenox Square Mall on November 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actor Jussie Smollett arrives at GLAAD Gala at Hilton San Francisco Union Square on November 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Jussie Smollett (L) and Taraji P. Henson attend Entertainment Weekly's first ever 'EW Fest' presented by LG OLED TV on October 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Jussie Smollett attends the 'Empire' Series Season 2 New York Premiere at Carnegie Hall on September 12, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Actors Jussie Smollett (L) and Bryshere 'Yazz' Gray accept the Choice TV Award for Breakout Show for Empire onstage at the Teen Choice Awards 2015 at the USC Galen Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Fox/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Actor/singer Jussie Smollett performs onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2015 at the USC Galen Center on August 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Fox/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Actor Jussie Smollett attends HollyRod Foundation's 17th Annual DesignCare Gala at The Lot Studios on August 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 08: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 17th annual DesignCare Gala at The Lot Studios on August 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for HollyRod Foundation)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 04: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 Essence Music Festival - Seminars - Day 3 on July 4, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Actor Jussie Smollett attends the 2015 BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)