CHICAGO (CBS) — More than two weeks have passed since Jussie Smollett told police he was attacked by two men who, according to Smollett, yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.
Here are the big developments in the case so far.
Police have arrested the two people who police initially said were “persons of interests.” There were later released on Friday night, without charges being filed.
On Thursday, a police source told CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards that investigators believe Jussie Smollett, a star of the show Empire, and two non-cooperating witnesses “potentially staged the attack.”
The two “persons of interest” are brothers who worked on the show.
They are now in police custody, being questioned. Their attorney says they could be charged as early as Friday.
Following a police raid, the front door of their home is busted off its frame. Belongings are thrown across the living room. Bedroom doors are damaged and clothes tossed everywhere.
Officially, Chicago police say there is no evidence of a hoax and that Smollett was being treated as a victim.
Jan. 29 Attack
Police said Smollett was walking home from a Subway restaurant, in the 300 block of E. Lower North Water Street, around 2 a.m. when two offenders yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him.
The offenders beat Smollett, put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on the him. They then fled the scene.
Smollett also told police the attackers allegedly yelled, “This is MAGA country,” referring to President Donald Trump’s slogan.
Sources said Smollett left the rope on his neck roughly 45 minutes until police arrived.
He took himself to Northwestern Hospital in good condition.
CPD detectives have been working the incident as a possible hate crime.
Two ‘Persons of Interest’
Two days after the alleged attack, police said video from cameras in the area of the attack showed “potential persons of interest” wanted for questioning.
The video does not depict an assault, according to police, but people are “seen in the vicinity of the alleged criminal incident during the alleged time of occurrence.”
Smollett Performed Weekend After Attack
The star took to the concert stage in Los Angeles Feb. 2 in his first public appearance since his reported attack. He told fans he wanted to clarify a few things and assured them he will be okay.
“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to [be], and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all,” he said.
Smollett told fans he was bruised, but his ribs were neither cracked nor broken, and that he went to a doctor immediately after the attack, but wasn’t hospitalized.
“Both my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform, but said to take care obviously. And above all, I fought the f*** back,” he said. “I’m the gay Tupac.”
Smollett Turned Over Phone Records This Week
Smollett turned over “limited and heavily redacted” phone records to police detectives Tuesday.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Smollett turned over a PDF file containing a redacted record of phone calls, but he said the redactions were “extreme.”
The records include the hour before the alleged attack.
“Any redacted information was intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack,” Smollettt’s spokesman, Peter Larsen, said.
Investigation Into Rope And Bottle
Detectives are trying to determine the origin of the rope used in the alleged attack. Investigators are trying to determine where it came from, or where it might have been purchased.
Police are also investigating a half-empty hot sauce bottle with a clear liquid in it, which recently was found near the scene of the alleged attack. Sources said the bottle smelled like bleach, which might corroborate Smollett’s claim his attackers poured a liquid chemical on him.
The bottle was not found during early evidence searches, but discovered later by a newspaper reporter.
It is unclear if it’s related to the attack. Police turned it over to an FBI technical assistance team.
Smollett, in an interview with “Good Morning America,” said he’s “pissed off” and that his story is “the truth.”