In a bizarre twist to the Jussie Smollett assault story, CNN is reporting that two law enforcement sources believe the Empire actor paid two brothers to fake the beating he claimed took place in the Second City on January 29.
The two men were reportedly released without charges Friday by the Chicago police after being apprehended earlier in the week. Police cited “new evidence” as the reason for their decision to let the two go that police initially believed had initiated a hate crime against the Emipre actor. The sources also told CNN that the brothers had purchased the noose at a local Ace Hardware store.
Late January, the actor claimed that he’d been assaulted by two men after hours shortly upon arriving in Chicago. Smollett said that the men yelled racist and homophobic epithets at him. He also said they put a noose around his neck, which he was wearing when police came by to investigate the alleged incident.
Since then, Smollett has stuck by his accusations, often expressing frustration that some have doubted his claims. Last week ABC7 came under fire for claiming that “multiple sources” had claimed that Smollett had faked the assault, which were then debunked by a Chicago police representative.
CNN hasn’t revealed their sources, nor have they been able to successfully acquire a response from Smollett and his attorney. This story is thus still developing, but there have been a curious number of leaks about the ongoing investigation that paint this story in an increasingly confusing light.