Report: Rio Police Account of Swimmer Story Coming Under Question
After so many different accounts of what happened one night in Rio, there is still uncertainty as to whose version of the truth is more accurate, Ryan Lochte‘s, or the police’s.
Lochte admitted that he “overexaggerated” when he first told a story of how he and teammates James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger were robbed at gunpoint by individuals posing as police officers. He acknowledged that no one pressed a gun against his head like he had first claimed, but did not say that the tale was completely fabricated. Lochte told NBC’s Matt Lauer that they were held at gunpoint and people did demand money from them.
Brazilian police’s account supported much of that, but they claimed that Lochte and his teammates gave the manager of a gas station money as part of a deal as compensation for damaging the bathroom, and that a security guard only drew a weapon when the swimmers tried to leave. Police also alleged that Lochte and Feigen falsely reported a crime by saying that a robbery took place.
According to a USA Today report, the allegations against the athletes may not be accurate after all. Bentz had reportedly said that he never saw anyone vandalize the gas station bathroom, and the newspaper reported that security footage backs him up. Bentz admitted that he and the other swimmers urinated outside the gas station, and that Lochte pulled a sign off a wall, but that was it. None of the video observed by USA Today‘s videographer, who visited the scene, showed the Olympians near the bathroom, the report said.
Fernando Deluz, a bilingual eyewitness who helped broker the monetary exchange between the swimmers and the gas station manager, reportedly said the bathroom was never mentioned at the time, only the sign.
As far as Lochte’s claim that the men who supposedly held them up at gun point showed badges and posed as cops? Well, authorities reportedly confirmed that they actually were law enforcement officials who were working a private job.
Brazilian judge João Batista Damasceno told USA Today that what took place at the gas station could have been a robbery, and that police were too quick to say that it wasn’t. “If they only asked for the amount of the damage, it may not be a robbery,” Damasceno said, “but if the amount taken is higher than the value of the damages, with the use of a weapon by the ‘security,’ this is robbery.” Judge Damasceno also said that just because a person may be entitled to compensation, that doesn’t mean they can use a gun to get it.
Bentz and Conger were never charged with anything, but Lochte has been charged with falsely reporting a crime, and Feigen paid nearly $11,000 to have charges dropped so he could go home.
Deborah Srour, an attorney with 25 years of legal experience in Brazil for 25 years, said that Lochte’s case could be dismissed with the assistance of a local lawyer. Srour, who has represented Americans who were facing charges, told USA Today that Lochte’s statement was not a false report in the criminal sense. “This crime only happens when you go to the police and you make a report, you file a report,’’ she said. “This did not happen.”