Brazilian police and new footage discredit Lochte’s robbery claims

Ryan Lochte, alleged robbery fabricator.
Image: Matt Hazlett / Stringer/getty images

What happened with Ryan Lochte on that night out in Rio? That’s been the question on everyone’s mind since his robbery claim came under intense investigation by Brazilian authorities.

Though Lochte initially claimed he and his three Olympic teammates Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday morning, the story behind the alleged robbery has changed multiple times in news reports, with the current focus being on a gas station where the group stopped during the morning.

On Thursday afternoon, Rio’s civil police chief Fernando Veloso spoke at a press conference to address the gas station altercation involving the four American swimmers.

At the press conference, according to a translator, Veloso explained, “At this exact moment, what thepolice can confirm is there wasno robbery in the way it wasreported by the athletes.They were not the victim of thecriminal facts they described.The police already confirmedthis.”

Prior to the police press conference, a Brazilian police official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk about the case, told the Associated Press, that Lochte fabricated the entire robbery story.

The official said that one member of the group attempted to open a bathroom door at a gas station in Barra da Tijuca, a suburb of Rio, before a few of the swimmers broke it down. According to the official, the group was then confronted by a security guard, who was armed with a pistol, but allegedly never took it out or pointed it at the swimmers.

At the press conference, Veloso confirmed the presence of a weapon, clarifying, “When we talk about the use of aweapon, it seems to be theweapon was used to control them.Once they were controlled thearm was the weapon was holstered.”

According to the official, the gas station manager arrived shortly after and, using a customer to translate, asked the swimmers to pay for the broken door. According to Veloso, the swimmers offered to pay for damages to the value of $100 Brazilian Riais plus US$20.

Veloso said he believed the real story is that the swimmers were intoxicated, committed an act of vandalism, paid for the damages and then twisted the story.

“What is the most likely story,the real story, and again, we’restill hearing witness testimonyand the story can change. The athletes left … wherethey were coming from.They went to the gas station.They went to the bathroom, andon purpose, one or more than oneof them we’re still investigating began to commit acts ofvandalism in the bathroom at thegas station,” Veloso said.

New footage released from the gas station

According to a report from ABC News, Brazilian authorities obtained a video from the gas station where the incident took place. Security footage, released by Brazilian TV station Globo, shows Lochte and the other three swimmers walking around the gas station around 6 a.m. on Sunday.

The footage does not show any interaction with a guard or the group damaging the door. Extended footage released on Twitter shows the swimmers being made to sit down at the station.

Globo reported the gas station owner claimed the men had urinated in the street and damaged a sign. “They stopped next to the gas station, and urinated outside right next to the gas station. We even have images of one of the athlete’s butts, as he is pulling up his pants,” the owner told Globo, according to CNN.

At the police conference, Veloso identified other acts of vandalism that the swimmers committed at the gas station as “breaking mirrors and otherequipment.” He explained that the actions of the swimmers “led to a certain confusionat the gas station,” and employees tried to control the situation.

“When the employees noticed whatwas happening, the security guardtried to convince the cab driverto wait for the police and tonot leave the scene.Apparently these facts have been[confirmed] and there’s no doubtabout them,” Veloso said.

What this means for the athletes

At the press conference, when questioned whether the athletes would have to answer for any crimes,Veloso said, “We can’t answer that.Why?Because we are still trying toconclude our investigation.We have to finish hearingeverybody.We need to see the conductof each athlete to see if theyhave any responsibility forthose acts.”

He said the swimmers could be charged with falsely reporting a crime or for damaging property. “I’m not going to say they’reformally going to be chargedwith anything.We have to finish ourinvestigation and at some momentthat might occur,” he concluded.

When asked whether or not the athletes had apologized for theirbehavior, Veloso said, he thinks an apology is in order. “We’re dealing with importantmatters.These are public figures.They influence others … We know what happened, so Ithink it would be noble of themto apologize to the citizens ofRio,” Veloso said.

UPDATE: Aug. 18, 2016, 5:36 p.m. EDT

Brazil’s Globo News reported that police recommended charges against both Lochte and Feigen for falsely reporting a crime.

UPDATE: Aug. 18, 2016, 10:56 p.m. EDT

The USOC has issued a statement on the incident that includes an apology on behalf of the athletes involved:

The behavior of these athletes is not acceptable, nor does it represent the values of Team USA or the conduct of the vast majority of its members. We will further review the matter, and any potential consequences for the athletes, when we return to the United States.

On behalf of the United States Olympic Committee, we apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence.

The investigation into potential charges for Lochte and Feigen is ongoing.

Associated Press contributed to reporting.


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