As the saga of Jussie Smollett continues to unfold, things are looking worse and worse for the Empire actor.
And they're also looking more and more unbelievable to those who have been following this story.
Scroll down for the latest update on a figure who has quickly gone from sympathetic to suspicious...
Over the past few days, serious doubts have been cast regarding whether or not Smollett was really assaulted by two men on the morning of January 29.
The star told cops late last month that he was walking home around 2 a.m. after getting a bite to eat when a pair of assailants:
- Hurled racial slurs and anti-gay epithets in his direction.
- Tied a rope around his neck.
- Poured a substanced believed to be bleach all over his body.
The incident immediately drew national attention, consider Smollett's level of fame and the despicable nature of this attack.
But did it raelly take place as described by the actor?
With various aspects of his story not making sense, a narrative started to emerge that Smollett may have staged this beating.
Local CBS and ABC affiliates in Chicago both quoted anonymous sources close to the police who said cops were beginning to operate under this theory -- especially after they identified the suspects as Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
It turns out that these men worked as extras on Empire.
They knew Smollett well.
And they were not white, as Smollett initially told the police; nor were they (seemingly) the kind of people who would scream that Smollett was in "MAGA country," as the actor has also alleged.
Shortly after arresting these men, the cops let them go without pressing any charges.
For what reason?
"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,” Chicago Police Department Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter Friday evening.
He later raised even more concerns and questions when he added:
We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.
Yes, the trajectory of the investigation.
Insiders have once again said this means the police strongly suspect that Smollett teamed with the aforementioned siblings to pretend he was assaulted.
Some sources have even alleged he paid them $4,000 for the job.
With authorities wanting to meet with Smollett to discuss aspects of the investigation, a spokesperson for his lawyer said the following on Monday:
"There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate.
"Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf. We have no further comment today."
TMZ, meanwhile, reports that Abel and Ola Osundairo are spilling everything to the cops.
And they are turning on Smollett in the process.
According to this website's latest article on the situation, the brothers have told the police that they got in a car with Smollett and scouted a location prior to the early morning in question, settling on the one right outside the actor's apartment.
The siblings explained Jussie selected the spot because he hoped a camera would capture the action.
He allegedly instructed his co-conspirators to make the beating a "physical thing," but not to rough him up too badly.
Moreover, these suspects say they actually rehearsed the attack and grew anxious when a car drove by just as they were doing so.
Totally crazy and very troubling, right?
It's worth noting that police grew concerned about Smollett's story after he took them to the scene of the supposed crime and did, indeed, point to an obscurely-located camera that he said had maybe recorded the attack.
(He was unaware that the camera was pointed in the wrong direction and therefore did not record anything of substance.)
In his latest statement, made through his legal team, Smollett has maintained that he played no role in this assault.
This is what he said over the weekend:
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.