Chicago Police: Jussie Smollett “officially classified” as suspect for allegedly filing a false police report
For fans of Jussie Smollett and for those who believed him and in him, this latest news is heartbreaking:
(CNN) Empire actor Jussie Smollett was “officially classified” a suspect in a criminal investigation Wednesday for allegedly filing a false police report, according to a tweet from Chicago police spokesman Officer Anthony Guglielmi.
A Cook County grand jury was hearing evidence just weeks after the young actor reported being the victim of a hate crime on January 29, the police spokesman said. Filing a false police report is a Class 4 felony.
Smollett’s transformation from victim to suspect in a reported crime that captured national headlines came on the same day that a high-ranking police source said Chicago detectives were working to obtain the actor’s financial records.
Investigators also have sought to ask the actor additional questions about the attack.
CNN was reaching out to Smollett’s attorneys for comment.
His attorneys met with Cook County prosecutors earlier in the day, according to police spokesman Tom Ahern. But a source close to actor’s team told CNN that he has not given police a follow-up interview and no such meeting is scheduled.
Smollett told authorities that two men attacked him, putting a rope around his neck and pouring an unknown chemical substance on him.
The actor denies playing a role in his attack, according to his attorneys.
In a statement before Smollett was named a suspect, 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series “Empire” on which Smollett appears, and Fox Entertainment expressed support for the actor.
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” the statement said.
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation have told CNN that police believe Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate an assault on him.
The brothers, who were arrested and released in connection with the attack, met Tuesday with police and prosecutors at a Chicago courthouse, Ahern said. The county’s top prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, has recused herself from the investigation, according to a spokeswoman from her office.