What exactly happened early Sunday morning in Rio when Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte, James Feigan, Gunnar Bentz, and Jack Conger came back to the Olympic Village and said they’d been robbed at gunpoint?
Their story is that the four were on their way back from partying at Club France, part of the French hospitality area, sometime around 4 or 5 a.m., when they were pulled over by what appeared to be Brazilian police.
New details seem to emerge by the moment as the story continues to be investigated.
Lochte told a vivid story to NBC News hours after the incident, saying, “These guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground.”
He went on to say that one of the robbers “pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said: ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like, ‘Whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet. He left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”
But is that really what happened? Brazilian officials are skeptical of the claims, which are embarrassing to the Olympic host country. Now Lochte has changed his story a little bit — plus new details seem to emerge as the story continues to be investigated.
A Brazilian police source told ABC News on Thursday that “one of the swimmers was seen on CCTV footage breaking down the door to the bathroom at the gas station and fighting with a security guard” on the night of the incident.
An AP story corroborates that story and elaborates, saying the swimmers broke down the bathroom door and were confronted by a gas station security guard, who was armed with a pistol, but he never took it out or pointed it at the young men. The gas station manager arrived, and using a customer to translate, asked the swimmers to pay for the broken door. After a discussion, they paid an unknown amount of money and then left.
Lochte first told his fabricated story to his mother, Ileana Lochte, who alerted police. It escalated from there.
In a phone conversation with Matt Lauer Wednesday night, Lochte said the gun was pointed in his “general direction.”
He also said the taxi was not forced off the road, but rather they had stopped at a gas station to use the men’s room when they were robbed.
Police wanted to question Lochte, but he scooted out of the country before that could happen. Lochte was spotted with Kayla Reid, his Playboy playmate girlfriend, Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, the New York Daily News reported.
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But two of the other swimmers — Conger and Bentz — were pulled off their flight to the United States by the Brazilian authorities, who confiscated their passports and detained them for several hours. The fourth swimmer — Feigen — is in Brazil cooperating with officials.
The men were released after agreeing to remain in the country and to speak with investigators today, according to The New York Times. Investigators have not found evidence corroborating the swimmers’ account. They have not been able to find the taxi driver who took the guys back to the Village.
Making it all murkier is the fact that the Olympic athletes, who said they had been intoxicated upon leaving the party, said they could not remember the color of the taxi they took, or where exactly the assault had taken place.
If it is found the swimmers provided false testimony, they could face charges for lying to investigators.
But whatever happened, it’s not that unusual for the police in Rio to be implicated in armed assaults, according to The Times. Two weeks before the Olympics started, a New Zealand athlete was forced into a car by armed police and made to withdraw the equivalent of $800.
In a separate incident early Tuesday, British Olympic officials confirmed that one of their athletes was the victim of a robbery. The team did not identify the athlete, who was said to be safe, or the assailant, reported The Guardian.