Team USA swimmer and gold medalist Ryan Lochte is caught in a media whirlwind.
He’s being publicly shamed on a daily basis, and to make things worse, he’s losing his sponsorships.
Most people agree that Lochte should live with the consequences for lying about being robbed at gun point, which prompted a media firestorm and a headache for Brazilian tourism.
The media was quick to accept the Brazilian authorities’ side of the story – that Ryan and the other three USA swimmers had filed a false police report in Rio in order to cover up the “real story” – that they had “trashed” and “vandalized” a gas station bathroom.
But new reports are surfacing which suggest the Brazilian police aren’t telling the whole truth.
USA TODAY Sports launched an investigation into the situation to uncover the real facts and, ultimately, the truth.
According to a USA TODAY Sports videographer,
“an extensive review of surveillance footage by [their reporter] who also visited the gas station supports swimmer Gunnar Bentz’s claim that he did not see anyone vandalize the restroom.”
The entire reason the four swimmers were forced to pay the gas station clerk money was because the security guards alleged they had trashed the bathroom.
“Meanwhile, Rio authorities have declined to identify the guards or offer any details beyond confirming they are members of law enforcement who were working a private security detail.”
Police have also refused to release additional footage of the altercation, supposedly showing the guards pulling guns, which the initial video didn’t show.
Fernando Deluz, the witness who involved himself at the scene of the incident, decided to help alleviate the situation after, he says, one of the guards pull a gun.
“As soon as they drew their weapon, that’s when I got worried,” Deluz, a disc jockey, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday.
“It was also so fast, and what I wanted was to resolve the situation,” says Deluz, who days later talked to police. “If it hadn’t been for wanting to resolve that, if I hadn’t involved myself, I thought – the police chief told me, ‘Man, if you hadn’t gone there in that moment, a tragedy could have occurred.”
The guards allegedly drew their guns in response to the USA swimmers refusal to pay for the damages to the bathroom.
But according to Bentz’s police report, the damage just included a “loosely attached advertising sign” pulled off a wall.
Bentz maintains he did not give a false statement to police.
However, at a press conference, Brazilian authorities offered a different narrative which described the incident as “vandalism” – and that the four swimmers had broken a soap dispenser and a mirror as well.
The videographer for USA TODAY Sports, who investigated the scene, found no such damage.
“A USA TODAY Sports videographer who visited the bathroom Thursday found no damage to soap dispensers and mirrors and said none of those items appeared to be new. Some media accounts suggested the men had broken down a door, which USA TODAY Sports also did not observe.”
Deluz, who intervened between the swimmers and guards once a gun was drawn, says the damages to the bathroom were never brought up during the negotiations. “The only damage mentioned was the sign Lochte tore down.”
“What happened really – it’s not even the issue of knocking down and breaking the sign,” Deluz said. “It was the attitude of the guys of messing up the place and then wanting to leave without a satisfactory resolution.”
With that being said, the statement by Deluz does not match the account given by Bentz.
In a statement, Bentz said he was held at gun point until the swimmers agreed to pay. Then they were allowed to leave.
Local observers who have kept up with the drama are starting to question the police’s quick reaction to what happened, which included charges against the swimmers for filing a false police report.