The Chicago Police Department says that media reports of Jussie Smollett staging the racist and homophobic attack he allegedly sustained last month are unconfirmed, while Fox has refuted a claim that the Empire star had been fired, thus precipitating the alleged hoax.
ABC Chicago reporter Rob Elgas tweeted on Thursday that “multiple sources” believe that Smollett and his two assailants orchestrated the headline-making crime, allegedly because his character, Jamal, was being written out of Empire. Another Chicago reporter, CBS’ Charlie De Mar, said that two persons of interest whose home was raided by police previously appeared as extras on the Fox drama.
Chicago PD Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi, however, issued a statement on Thursday saying, “Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. [Superintendent] Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
Supt. Johnson told ABC Chicago that Smollett “is considered a victim and the police investigation is ongoing.”
Empire producer 20th Century Fox Television, meanwhile, issued a statement undercutting the motive for any alleged hoax, saying, “The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Smollett sought treatment at a hospital in Chicago, where Empire is filmed, following his alleged late-January attack, in which two men supposedly approached the actor/singer and began hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him. According to the original account, the two men beat Smollett, poured a chemical substance (believed to be bleach) on him and tied a noose around his neck before fleeing the scene. Smollett also told police that the assailants “yelled pro-‘Make America Great Again’ [MAGA] comments” during the attack.
Smollett performed at an L.A. concert days after the attack, and appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America this Thursday morning to give his account of the incident, saying that he’s been “forever changed” by it.