A grand jury could be hearing the Jussie Smollett case in the near future, TMZ reports. Law enforcement sources told the news outlet — which initially reported the alleged attack against Smollett, which law enforcement sources now say may have been orchestrated — that a grand jury could hear the case next week.
Law enforcement sources connected to the investigation told TMZ that the two brothers who were arrested and then released without charges last week, Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, are staying somewhere in downtown Chicago under police protection. The effort is reportedly an attempt to ensure they don't come in contact with Smollett.
TMZ reports that police found magazines with pages missing when they raided the home of the two brothers; authorities are reportedly attempting to determine if the missing pages are connected to the threatening letter sent to Smollett eight days before the alleged attack on Jan. 29.
The outlet also reports that although the Empire actor initially said he would sign complaints against the two men who attacked him, he reportedly changed his mind and said he knew them when he learned of their identities.
Police are reportedly interested in interviewing Smollett again about the alleged attack, which Smollett claimed involved two men jumping him, shouting racial and homophobic slurs at him, pouring a substance that may have been bleach on him, and tying a rope around his neck. Police reportedly believe the rope was purchased at a hardware store where the surveillance footage erases after a week.
Law enforcement sources told local news outlets the brothers told detectives that Smollett paid them to take part in the alleged attack and brought the rope found around the actor's neck. They reportedly said they were paid $3,500 before they left for Nigeria on the day of the attack and were promised $500 once they returned to Chicago. They also reportedly said they rehearsed the attack "days" before it happened.
A law enforcement source also reportedly told TMZ that investigators were suspicious of Smollett's account that the men screamed "This is MAGA country" because "not a single Trump supporter watches Empire."
Smollett's legal team still says that Smollett is the victim in the situation, arguing that he did not play a "role in his own attack."
"As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the statement read. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
The attorneys said one of the men interviewed by police is a personal trainer hired to get Smollett ready "physically for a music video."
"It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity," the statement read.0comments
Smollett called rumors that the alleged attack was a hoax "offensive."
"It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more," Smollett said last week on Good Morning America. "And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now."