Police in Rio de Janeiro have recommended that U.S. Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte and James Feigen face charges of false reporting of a crime, a civil police spokesperson said.
The recommendation follows assertions by Brazil’s police today that Lochte, Feigen and two other U.S. swimmers who said they were held up at gunpoint in Rio were not robbed.
In a statement, Lochte’s lawyer, Jeffrey Ostrow, said he wasn’t aware of “the federal police recommending charges for filing a false police report.”
“I am not surprised to hear it though. They’ve gone this far and have failed to acknowledge that the robbery actually took place, so that would be the natural next step,” the statement said. “A gun was pointed at the swimmers and they were forced to get out of their cab and give up their money. No matter what happened at that gas station, the swimmers were robbed by people with a gun appearing to be law enforcement. No matter what country you are in that is robbery and robbery is a serious crime.”
One or more of the U.S. Olympic swimmers vandalized a bathroom at a gas station after the four left a party early Sunday, according to Rio’s Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso. The athletes broke mirrors and damaged other things in the bathroom, police said.
The athletes initially refused to stay at the gas station, but security asked the taxi not to leave. Another person stepped in to translate between the athletes and the guards, and the athletes left money, police said.
Police said that witnesses were initially afraid to speak to police.
There was no evidence of violence against the athletes, police noted. The investigation is ongoing.
Sources who spoke to the four swimmers today disputed Brazilian police’s characterization of what happened, telling ABC News that Lochte and the others were held up by gunmen until the athletes handed over hundreds of dollars.
The swimmers have cooperated with police, the sources told ABC News.
On Sunday, Lochte claimed that he and three teammates — Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen — were robbed in a taxi early that morning while heading to the Olympic Village.
Yesterday, Lochte told NBC News’ Matt Lauer that the swimmers had used a restroom at a gas station and when they returned to the taxi, the driver didn’t move. That’s when two men approached with guns and badges and told the athletes to get out of the taxi and get down, Lochte said.
Lochte has returned to the U.S., but the three other swimmers remain in Brazil. Bentz and Conger were detained Wednesday night “shortly before their flight was scheduled to depart from Rio,” said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky.
Video posted to social media shows Conger being removed from a flight from Rio to Atlanta on Wednesday night.
Bentz, Conger and Feigen “are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” Sandusky said.
“All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio,” he added.
Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, told ESPN that authorities have not reached Lochte since he gave his initial statement Sunday. Lochte was not asked by authorities to stay in Brazil, Ostrow said.
Surveillance video obtained by Brazil’s Globo TV shows the swimmers at a gas station. Additional surveillance footage obtained by Globo TV shows the swimmers arriving at a party at French House around 1:45 a.m. and leaving four hours later. According to a judge in the case, the athletes claimed to have left the party at 4 a.m.
Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to reflect that the swimmers have not been indicted. Police have recommended charges, but prosecutors have to decide whether or not to approve.
SOURCE: JULIA JACOBO and EMILY SHAPIRO