In the latest in a string of bizarre twists, police have released two Nigerian men from custody just hours after arresting them on suspicion that they were involved with the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollet.
“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweet Friday night.
The men — identified by TMZ as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — are brothers from Nigeria. At least one of them — Olabinjo — previously appeared as an extra on Empire. Police raided the brothers’ home on Thursday, where they found several bottles of bleach.
Smollett initially told police that he was attacked by two men outside a Subway restaurant in Chicago during the early morning hours of January 29th. The 36-year-old actor, who is openly gay, described the assailants as white men wearing ski masks, who asked Smollett if he was “that f***ot Empire n*****?” before attacking him with a rope and bleach. As they fled the scene the men yelled, “This is MAGA country!” according to Smollett.
Yesterday, police ruled out local media reports that Smollett staged the attack himself.