After a day of alleged developments, Brazilian investigators are attempting to set the record straight—they say Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen were not robbed.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Chief of Civil police of Rio Fernando Veloso told reporters (via CNN's English translation) that right now what they can confirm is there was no robbery the way it was reported or claimed by the athletes. They said the men were not victims of the criminal actions that they claim they were.
While they are careful to note that the investigation is not finished and they still have to speak with other witnesses, the men added that one of the swimmers confirmed the version of the new story that there was no robbery against the athletes. According to the police, the unnamed swimmer narrated a version that is in alignment with the evidence, the testimonies, the witnesses, the surveillance video and the images.
For Lochte, who is already home, the FBI is following the investigation, so that Ryan can be heard in the United States, Veloso added. Though the investigation is still ongoing, the men could face charges for false communication of a crime and damaging private property depending on the outcome of the investigation, though the police chief was hesitant to make any premature suggestions.
Originally, according to Bentz, Conger, Feigen and Lochte, they were being driven home early Sunday morning when "their taxi was stopped by individuals posing as armed police officers who demanded the athletes' money and other personal belongings," as described in an initial statement from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Rio police later could not corroborate their story. As of Wednesday, Brazilian officials had been unable to find evidence supporting the athletes' claims, including the men's taxi driver or witnesses to the reported crime.
Brazilian Judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop subsequently ordered Feigen and Lochte's passports seized to prevent them from leaving the country, though Lochte had already arrived in the United States. Wednesday evening, Conger and Bentz were pulled off of their flight home shortly before take off and detained for questioning by Brazilian authorities.
Since the story was first reported, new discrepancies and developments have called the men's account into question, beginning with the differences noted in Lochte's on-camera interview with Billy Bush on Monday, a day after the alleged incident occurred, and his discussion with Lauer late Wednesday night. While Lochte told Bush the gun had been cocked to his forehead, he told Lauer it was pointed in his "general direction."
As for the location of their taxi, he originally said the cab had been pulled over by men with a fake police badge, while in his account to Lauer, he said they had stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom when the alleged robbery occurred. Later, surveillance camera footage of their visit to a Shell gas station in Barra da Tijuca emerged. The recording shows the four men walking to a bathroom located behind a structure and subsequently getting into their taxi. However, the footage jumps to show them getting back out of their cars and walking with their hands raised. Globo released a video of the incident, and while E! News has viewed the footage, we cannot confirm it's authenticity.
Veloso described a different account from Lochte's, based on collected testimonies and the video footage, saying the athletes had caused damage in the bathroom and when the gas attendees approached them, they tried to get in their taxi and leave. However, according to the official, the security guards asked the taxi driver not to leave and wait for the police to arrive, but the athletes refused to stay there. During that time, a third person offered to interpret from Portuguese to English and told the athletes they had to pay for the damage, so they paid with a $20 dollar bill and 100 Brazilian reals and left before the police arrived.
While Veloso said there was no physical or verbal violence that could have lead the swimmers to think they were victims of a robbery, he did say they were asked to sit on the floor by the attendees and that there was use of a firearm to control them as the gas attendants say Lochte was visibly intoxicated and angry and the four men are large in stature.
The police chief also confirmed two women were with them in the taxi and have given statements to the police.