As Chicago police investigate a tip that Jussie Smollett was seen with the two men questioned in his alleged attack, reports emerged that “Empire” is cutting the actor’s scenes from the remainder of the season.
Smollett, who plays gay singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on the show, was slated to be featured in nine scenes and a big season-ending musical performance for season 5, TMZ reported. Five of his scenes and the musical number have been cut.
Smollett told police he was walking around 2 a.m. January 29 when two people he didn't know started yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, ABC 7 in Chicago reported.
After being verbally accosted, the two men struck Smollett in the face with their hands and poured a chemical on him, ABC 7 reported. Police said at the time that one attacker wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before the two ran away.
Smollett received overwhelming support on social media, including from “Empire” co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong shortly after the police report went public.
Two weeks after the alleged attack, police arrested and questioned two brothers they suspected were responsible for the beating. On Feb. 16, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the trajectory of the case had "shifted" — that the two brothers had been released without charges and investigators wanted to speak to Smollett again, the Associated Press reported. On Sunday, Guglielmi issued a statement saying police "are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released."
But Monday, ABC News reported the two brothers told police Smollett staged the attack on himself, because he was upset a threatening letter he received in mid-January did not get enough attention.
Police are now investigating a tip that Smollett was seen in an elevator with the two brothers on the night he says he was attacked, the new station reported. Guglielmi said the person who sent in the tip lives in the building or was visiting someone there, and reported seeing the three together.
Social media reaction was not as supportive since more details have come out.
“Empire” returns for the remainder of its fifth season on March 13.
MORE: AJC interview with Jussie Smollett
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