The Associated Press reports that police investigating the Smollett case have received a tip that Smollett and the Nigerian brothers were seen riding in an elevator in his building the night of the attack:
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the person who lives in the building or was visiting someone there reported seeing the three together the night last month that Smollett says two masked men hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck.
Yesterday, TMZ reported Smollett and the brothers had scouted a location to stage the attack a few days before it took place. They allegedly also discussed how the attack would take place including that there would be a fight but not one that would be too serious. That story hasn’t been confirmed on the record by police (though TMZ cites police sources) but if true it suggests Smollett was coordinating directly with the brothers beforehand.
Here’s my one hesitation on this latest report. If the brothers are cooperating with police and were in Smollett’s building the night of the attack, they would probably have told police that themselves as a way to prove their story was true. So it seems a little off to me that police got a tip from a 3rd party. Either this tip isn’t going to pan out or the brothers aren’t really helping their own credibility.
In a related story, TMZ reports that Smollett is now having his scenes in upcoming episodes of the show cut after the investigation took a turn toward a possible hoax:
Production sources tell TMZ … Jussie was supposed to have 9 scenes and a big musical number in the second to the last episode — which is being shot now — but, 5 of his scenes have been cut, and his musical number has been 86’d.
As for the remaining 4 scenes … we’re told he’s no longer the focus. The scene features an ensemble, meaning he’s flanked by a number of cast members.
And since this is TMZ, it’s worth noting that Deadline has heard the same thing, i.e. Smollett’s scenes have been slashed. It’s quite a turn around from last week when Fox and the writers rushed to defend him.
Even some of the people who came out for Smollett after the initial report of the attack are starting to backtrack a bit. Rapper Cardi B said on Instagram that she felt, “like he f–ked up Black History Month.” Even Alyssa Milano seems to be preparing for the worst:
If that man staged his own attack he is wrong in so many ways.
No one could be that hurtful? To stage this? Right?
To fuck with all of us by playing into our weaknesses & make it even harder for victims to come forward?! No one could choose to be that hurtful? Right?! RIGHT?
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) February 18, 2019
And here’s one last update. Smollett already has an attorney but this Chicago reporter says he may be about to get an upgrade:
NOW: Jussie Smollett may be lawyering up, WAY UP, his team’s talking with famed LA defense attorney Mark Geragos – whose rep’d Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Chris Brown & on.
— Brad Edwards (@tvbrad) February 19, 2019
Update: I said above that this tip probably wouldn’t pan out and it hasn’t.
CPD has confirmed that a tip this morning about a sighting at the residential towers of individuals involved in this alleged incident is unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives.
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 19, 2019
If the brothers had been with Smollett in his building that night, they’d have told police about it. If that were the case, police wouldn’t need to be hearing it from a tipster.