Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
The brothers, who were arrested Wednesday, were released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The sources told CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
The sources told CNN that there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at an Ace Hardware store in Chicago.
Smollett gave his first detailed account of what he says was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in an interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Thursday. During the interview he expressed frustration at not being believed.
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.”
CNN’s attempts to reach both Smollett’s representative and attorney Saturday were unsuccessful.
Developing story – more to come
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 16, 2019
A source close to the investigation tells CBS News that 2 brothers – arrested & then released – told detectives that Smollett paid them to participate in the alleged attack, & that they purchased the rope found around Smolletts neck at a hardware store
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) February 16, 2019
If #JussieSmollett orchestrated this scam and claimed he was attacked because he’s black and gay, the real tragedy will be all of the victims of REAL hate crimes whose stories won’t be believed. pic.twitter.com/XIWwXazg5L
— Victor Blackwell CNN (@VictorBlackwell) February 17, 2019
SOURCE: CNN – Ryan Young and Brad Parks