[UPDATE] Cops dismiss reports that Jussie Smollett and persons of interest were together prior to alleged hate crime

Authorities in Illinois are pushing back against recent reports alleging that actor Jussie Smollett was seen alongside two persons of interest in a hate-crime attack the “Empire” star claimed occurred last month.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, investigators looked into a reports from a witness claiming to have seen the three men together in the building where Smollett lives earlier on the day of the alleged attack.

According to the Associated Press, however, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi dismissed the claim, noting that surveillance footage revealed it to be unfounded.

Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men outside of a Subway restaurant early on the morning of January 29. He told police that his assailants shouted racist and homophobic taunts as they hit him, tied a noose around his neck and poured an unidentified liquid on him.

He has since faced allegations that he paid the two men to stage the attack and police are also reportedly looking into evidence that he sent himself a threatening letter days before reporting the attack.

A statement last week from Smollett’s attorneys echoed earlier comments and brushed off allegations in recent news reports.

“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,” Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said. “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.”

[Featured image: Jussie Smollett, Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]