The extent of the property damage Ryan Lochte and three of his fellow U.S. Olympic swimmers caused to a gas station eight days ago might have been exaggerated by Rio de Janeiro police, according to a report by USA Today.
At a news conference Thursday, Fernando Veloso, the head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, said the Americans had broken a soap dispenser and mirror inside the restroom. Other reports have said the four also broke a bathroom door.
But one of the U.S. swimmers, Gunnar Bentz, said in a statement Friday that he didn’t see anyone vandalize the bathroom and the only damage caused by the group occurred when Lochte pulled a “loosely attached” advertising sign from a wall.
In examining all available surveillance footage from that night, including one aimed at the restroom doors, USA Today found no evidence the swimmers ever went near the bathroom, after relieving themselves behind the gas station.
A USA Today videographer visited the gas station and found no damage to the soap dispensers, mirrors or door, and none of those items appeared to be new.
The swimmers were eventually held at gunpoint by security guards at the station and were released after paying the equivalent of $50.
Fernando Deluz, a bilingual Brazilian who served as a translator between the swimmers and the security guards, told USA his understanding was the money paid was to cover vandalized property and that the only property that came up during the negotiations was the advertising sign Lochte had pulled down.
Deluz also said that because of the language barrier, the Americans might have believed they were being robbed.