The 36-year-old claimed he had been jumped outside his apartment in Chicago, Illinois on 29 January, when his two attackers, who he described as white, tied a rope noose around his neck and poured a bleach-like liquid over him, while hurling racist and homophobic slurs.
Police interviewed "potential suspects" Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo on Thursday, February 14, but the Nigerian brothers were subsequently released without charge, and over the weekend, officials announced the focus of their investigation had shifted to Smollett himself, amid allegations suggesting he had paid the pair to attack him.
Cops are also looking into a tip indicating that Smollett had been seen with the Osundairo brothers hours before the alleged assault, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Smollett has stood by his story and has so far declined to be re-interviewed by detectives, and as the criminal investigation continues, multiple reports indicate that the actor/singer, who portrays the openly-gay musician son of Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on "Empire", will not feature as heavily as initially planned in scenes being shot in Chicago this week.
Sources tell Deadline.com upcoming episodes have undergone heavy rewrites in recent days to scale back Smollett's time on camera. Production on the fifth season of the Fox hip-hop drama series resumed on Tuesday, February 19, ahead of its TV return next month.
Network representatives for Fox have declined to comment on the reports, which first surfaced on TMZ, while Smollett's publicist has yet to weigh in on the claims.
Meanwhile, Smollett's siblings have shown their continued support for Jussie by sharing a quote attributed to the late civil rights activist Malcolm X, who condemned the "irresponsible media" for making "the criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal."
"If you aren't careful, the media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing," the quote continued.
The captionless text was posted on the Instagram pages of actors Jocqui Smollett and Jurnee Smollett-Bell.