Police in Chacago are seeking a follow-up interview with actor Jussie Smollett amid reports he may have faked a hate-crime assault.
Smollett, 36, a gay African-American actor who appears on hip-hop TV dramaEmpire, told police he was attacked on January 29 by two masked men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs.
According to Smollett’s account, his assailants struck him in the face, draped a rope around his neck and doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” before fleeing.
But the actor now appears to be under investigation himself amid claims he staged the incident because he feared he was about to be written out of the popular television show.
Police say the focus of their investigation has “shifted” after they received new information about the attack from the alleged assailants.
Police detained two Nigerian brothers, identified as Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo last week, who were recognised from surveillance footage taken in the area of the alleged assault.
One of the brothers had appeared as an extra on “Empire” and the other was Smollett’s personal trainer, whom the actor hired to help get him ready for a music video.
On Monday a spokeswoman for Smollett said there were no plans for the actor to meet with Chicago detectives for a follow-up interview but his lawyers “will keep an active dialogue with Chicago police on his behalf.”
Local TV station CBS 2 News reported that sources connected to the investigation believe Smollett paid the two men $3,500 (£2,700) to stage the attack, directing them to buy the rope used in the incident and rehearsing it with them days before.