Police Investigating Whether Jussie Smollett Was Seen With Alleged Attackers Hours Before Reported Assault
The two individuals were previously identified as brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo: “We are not racist, we are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump," they said Monday.
On Tuesday morning authorities investigated a tip that Jussie Smollett was seen with two men — brothers arrested and later released — hours before the Empire actor's alleged assault, Chicago police confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
No specifics were offered by police other than Smollett may have been seen with the two individuals involved in the investigation on the day of the alleged attack.
Hours later, Chicago PD chief communications officer Anthony Guglielmi called the tip "unfounded," tweeting: "CPD has confirmed that a tip this morning about a sighting at the residential towers of individuals involved in this alleged incident is unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives."
The two individuals were previously identified as brothers: Ola and Abel Osundairo. On Monday, they broke their silence and spoke briefly with Chicago news station CBS2. “We are not racist, we are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," the brothers said in a statement to the Chicago news station. (Presumably, they meant, "We are not pro-Trump.")
The 36-year-old actor has been embroiled in controversy since he reported being attacked last month by two men who he alleged were Donald Trump supporters that targeted him for being black and gay. The police report also stated a chemical was poured on Smollett and a rope was tied around his neck during the alleged assault.
Two suspects, the Osundairo brothers, were arrested in the case, but they were later released without charges.
Chicago police over the weekend said the "trajectory" of the investigation had shifted but offered no specifics. "We can confirm that the information received from the individuals [arrested and later released] questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has, in fact, shifted the trajectory of the investigation," police said over the weekend.
The brothers' lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, said in a statement to CBS2, “In due course, all the facts will reveal themselves and at the end of the day my clients are honest and credible."
Smollett and his lawyers have vehemently denied accusations the attack was a hoax or that the actor fabricated parts of the assault. A request for comment about the tip investigation was not immediately returned.
Feb. 19, 2:15 p.m.: Updated with Chicago PD tweet calling the original tip "unfounded."