CHICAGO — In a major twist, law enforcement sources now saying Chicago police are investigating whether Empire star Jussie Smollett may have orchestrated a hoax, enlisting two men to stage a vicious attack.
The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett in Chicago told authorities that the "Empire" actor allegedly paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the crime, sources told ABC News Sunday.
Detectives are trying to corroborate the account of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, but thus far police have not independently verified the allegations, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News.
Police are saying they want to talk to Smollett "urgently", saying, "We have been in touch with Smollett's attorneys. We made our intentions clear."
Smollett's attorney has released a statement, saying: "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with... He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
According to sources, the two brothers - seen in this surveillance image - agreed to cooperate after being confronted with evidence they bought the rope found around Smollett's neck, and were threatened with battery and hate crime charges.
Police say the two men are no longer considered potential suspects and confirming the brothers have a relationship with Smollett, with one of them appearing as an extra on Empire.
In an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts last week, the actor was defiant, slamming those who doubt his story.
"Who the f*** would make something like this us, or add something to it, or-- or whatever it may be?" Smollett said.