Chicago Police have shot down two local media reports claiming that its detectives thought Empire actor Jussie Smollett had staged his alleged hate attack.
In an extraordinary step, the police department’s top spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, put out a statement on Twitter that said: “Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives”
He said the police superintendent had contacted one of the stations to “state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
That came after CBS and ABC affiliates in Chicago quoted unidentified sources as saying that detectives either believed or were investigating whether Smollett had staged the incident with the help of two men.
Earlier in the day, the Chicago Police Department did confirm they had identified two “persons of interest” in the alleged attack.
Authorities were reportedly able identify the suspects “using cameras, public transportation records and corroborating info provided by Smollett,” but police were unable to find video surveillance footage of the attack.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the men—one of whom had appeared in Empire were picked up at the airport Wednesday night and brought in for questioning.
Hours after that, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America and recounted the Jan. 29 attack and complained that doubts had been raised about his account.
He described how he was called homophobic and racial slurs while he was walking home from Subway early that morning. He then said one of the men punched him.
“So I punched his ass back,” Smollet said. They allegedly fought on ice before the two men ran off. Then Smollet realized they poured bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck.
“I could only go off of their words. I mean, who says ‘Fucking Empire n---er, this is MAGA country, n---er, ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight?”