Jussie Smollett Now 'Officially Classified As A Suspect'
Jussie Smollett has been "officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation," according to a spokesperson with the Chicago Police Department.
The Empire actor is accused of filing a false police report, which police say is a Class 4 felony, stemming from an alleged attack in downtown Chicago in late January.
"Detectives are currently presenting evidence" before a Cook County, Illinois, grand jury, according to a tweet from Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Wednesday's new development comes after Smollett's attorneys met with prosecutors and detectives and after detectives said two brothers who were earlier deemed suspects were testifying before a grand jury.
CBS News has learned detectives have been granted about a dozen search warrants to comb through Smollett's bank and cellphone records.
The 36-year-old actor, who is black and openly gay, plays Jamal Lyon on Fox's hit drama Empire.
He told policeby two masked men when he was returning home from a Subway sandwich store January 29 around 2 am.
He claims the two men had beat him, said homophobic and racial slurs and put a looped rope around his neck before fleeing.
He said he heard, "this is MAGA country," an apparent reference to President Trump's campaign slogan.
A source close to the investigation told CBS News on February 16 two Nigerian brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, revealed to detectives Smollett paid them to participate in the attack.
They said the rope that was found around Smollett's neck was purchased at a nearby hardware store. A raid of their home turned up ropes, masks and bleach.
Chicago police said that information had "shifted the trajectory of the investigation," and prompted another interview with Smollett.
The actor's attorneys said he was "angered and devastated" by reports that he knew the alleged attackers, and that one of the men was Smollett's personal trainer. Ola Osundairo had played a prisoner in a season of Empire.
On February 19, in a statement to CBS Chicago, the brothers said: "We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens."
The FBI and US Postal Inspectors are studying a letter mailed to the studio where Empire is filmed and where Smollett works.
The brothers allege Smollett crafted the letter and when it didn't garner much attention, planned the attack a week later.
On Tuesday, Chicago's top prosecutor, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, had recused herself from the Smollett investigation.
A one-sentence statement, via her spokeswoman, described the decision.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case," spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.