Police Receive Tip That Jussie Smollett Appeared in Elevator With 2 Brothers Implicated in Crime

Chicago police are reportedly investigating a tip that Jussie Smollett was inside an elevator with the men who he said attacked him outside his apartment building when he made the 911 call to allege the attack.

A department spokesman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a person who lives in the building or was visiting someone there reported seeing the Empire star with the two brothers later arrested and released from custody.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said police haven't confirmed the person's account and that detectives planned to interview that person on Tuesday.

Last week, police announced the "investigation had shifted" following interviews with the brothers, who were released from police custody without charges. Police also said they requested another interview with Smollett. They have declined to comment on reports that the attack was a hoax.

Smollett's legal team continues to maintain that Smollett was a victim in the alleged attack, as well as in the reports that he may have played a role in staging it.

"Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying," the statement from attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said in a statement late Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Smollett's lawyers said they would "keep an active dialogue with Chicago police on his behalf."

In January, Smollett claimed that two masked men bombarded him with racial and homophobic slurs, beat him, poured an unknown substance on him that may have been bleach and tied a rope around his neck. However, law enforcement sources told Chicago news outlets the brothers told detectives Smollett paid them $3,500 to participate in the attack before they went to Nigeria the day of the alleged incident and were promised $500 when they returned to Chicago. They reportedly said they rehearsed the attack "days" before it happened and bought the rope found around Smollett's neck.

Police asked Smollett for a new interview, but he is refusing to do so.

Meanwhile Empire showrunner and executive Brett Mahoney threw his support behind Smollett on Sunday.


"I believe and stand by [Jussie Smollett]," Mahoney tweeted. "Keep your head up." The message was also retweeted by the Empire writers room Twitter page.

FOX denied rumors that Smollett was going to be written off the musical drama, with series co-creator Danny Strong tweeting last week, "There is 0 percent truth that [Smollett] was going to be written off of Empire. "This rumor is totally false. He is the third lead and one of the most beloved characters on the show. Writing him off the show has NEVER even been discussed."