AP

Chicago police seek follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett

Feb 18, 2019, 5:25 AM
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2017 file photo, Jussie Smollett participates in the "Empire" panel during t...
FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2017 file photo, Jussie Smollett participates in the "Empire" panel during the FOX Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Smollett, an actor on the TV series "Empire," is also an R&B musician who performed Saturday night, Feb. 2, 2019, at a concert in Los Angeles. Smollett, who is openly gay, says two masked men attacked him early Tuesday in Chicago in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police said Sunday they’re still seeking a follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett after receiving new information that “shifted” their investigation of a reported attack on the “Empire” actor.

The trajectory of the investigation “shifted” after detectives questioned two brothers about the attack and released them late Friday without charges, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Saturday. He said police also reached out to Smollett’s attorney to request another interview with him.

Guglielmi said Sunday the interview had not yet been conducted. He declined to comment on published reports that police believe Smollett staged the assault or that a grand jury may hear evidence in the case. The reports cited unnamed police sources.

“We’re not confirming, denying or commenting on anything until we can talk to him and we can corroborate some information that we’ve gotten,” he said.

Smollett, who is black and gay, has said he was physically attacked last month by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” He said they looped a rope around his neck before running away as he was returning home from an early morning stop at a Subway restaurant in downtown Chicago. He said they also poured some kind of chemical on him.
Pamela Sharp, a spokeswoman for Smollett, said Sunday that there were no updates “as of now.” Another spokeswoman, Anne Kavanagh, later said she couldn’t comment on whether Smollett had agreed to another interview.

Smollett’s lawyers said late Saturday that the actor felt “victimized” by reports that he played a role in the assault, adding that, “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.” The statement from attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson also said Smollett would continue cooperating with police.

Police said they combed surveillance video in the heavily monitored area where Smollett said the attack occurred but were unable to find any footage of the incident. They did obtain images of two people they said they would like to question.

On Wednesday, Chicago police picked up the brothers at O’Hare International Airport as they returned from Nigeria. They described them as “suspects” in the assault, questioned them and searched their apartment.

Then, late Friday evening they released the two men without charges and said they were no longer suspects. They said they had gleaned new information from their interrogation of them.

One of the men is Smollett’s personal trainer, whom the actor hired to help get him physically ready for a music video, Smollett’s attorneys said in their statement.

“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 attorneys said.

Police have said they were investigating the attack as a possible hate crime and considered Smollett a victim. Reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media from some politicians and celebrities. Smollett’s account of what happened also has been met with skepticism, particularly in the wake of the latest developments.

Smollett, who is also a musician, gave an emotional speech during a Feb. 2 concert in West Hollywood, California, saying he went ahead with the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.

He also gave an interview to Robin Roberts of ABC News that aired Thursday in which he said he was “pissed” at people who did not believe he was attacked.

“I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”

Earlier this week, police said reports that the attack against Smollett was a hoax were unconfirmed.

Producers of the Fox television drama have supported Smollett, saying his character on “Empire,” Jamal Lyon, was not being written off the show.

Smollett turned over redacted phone records that police said were not sufficient for a criminal investigation.
___
This story has been corrected to show that the spokeswoman’s last name is Kavanagh, not Kavanaugh, and that the first name of Smollett’s character on the show is Jamal, not James.
___
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
6 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
8 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
9 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
10 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
10 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Chicago police seek follow-up interview with Jussie Smollett