Lawyer: Ryan Lochte did not lie about robbery at gunpoint – USA TODAY
Lochte and three U.S. swimmers said they were robbed at gunpoint early Sunday, with Lochte saying their cab was pulled over by men impersonating police officers.
RIO DE JANEIRO âÂ Ryan Lochte is more victim than villain and he did not lie about being robbed at gunpoint, the American swimmerâs attorney told USA TODAY Sports.
Jeffrey M. Ostrow, a Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer representing Lochte, said Lochte’s apology on Friday should not be viewed as a full mea culpa. Authorities in Rio should be investigating the two security guards who pulled weapons on the U.S. swimmers and demanded payment for damage to a bathroom door handle, he said.
âI donât consider things done. I know that investigation is still going. I hope that there is more that comes out of it, find out a little bit more about the security guard or the military police or whoever it was specifically that extorted the money from (the swimmers),” Ostrow said.
Lochte stands behind his assertion that he and hisÂ teammates were held at gunpoint and robbed Sunday. That account is supported by surveillance video of what took place at the gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Ostrow said.
âThat part of the story will never change,” Ostrow said during a telephone interview. “We stand behind that.”
Ostrow Â supportsÂ the framework of Lochte’s account asÂ correct âÂ uniformed guards, armed, demanding money.Â Â
â(Lochte) knows that he was held up at gunpoint and forced to give up money and that he was robbed. Thatâs being overshadowed, and itâs unfortunate because people are focusing on other things or relying on what the Brazilians are saying as opposed to taking the time to really analyze that you can kind of see it both ways.”
Earlier on Friday, Lochte issued a statement on social media apologizing for his behavior and âfor not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning.ââ
Ostrow said casting Lochte as the villain in the incident â someone who distorted or fabricated what took place in the alleged robbery â fails to account for two perspectives based on the surveillance video.
âI think that thereâs two ways you can look at it,ââ Ostrow said. âYou can look at that my client and the other swimmers are in another country being yelled at in Portuguese with a gun pointed at them, and the gun was pointed right at Ryan. And that when theyâre being told to give up their money in another language with a hand signal ‘money,’ that looks like a robbery.
“Whether it was warranted from the side of Brazilians or not, thatâs robbery. From my clientâs respect, thatâs what happened.”
âFrom (the Braziliansâ) respect, I can see that would be turned to, âNo, we were just telling him donât leave and pay us because we think you all did some damage.â It could be interpreted both ways, and itâs not fair for people to jump to conclusions that it was one way or another.
âAll we know for sure is the account that Ryan gave and the swimmers gave, that they were held at gunpoint, was supported by that video and they were forced to give up money.”
Ostrow said he doesn’t know how the vandalism took place or if LochteÂ was responsible for it, but only that the swimmers paid about $20 in compensation before being allowed to leave the gas station.
Testimony released Friday by Rio authorities said that U.S. swimmer Jack Conger identified Lochte as the one who committed vandalism. “Ryan ripped off a plaque that was stuck on the wall of the gas station and made a lot of noise.” Conger said, according to the police account.
It’s not clear if there was other damage.
Since Lochte verified a written summary of his statement to police earlier in the week, Ostrow said, he has not heard back from Brazilian authorities but remains willing to cooperate with the investigation.
âRyanâs focused on making sure that his whole team gets back here and that making sure that people understand that although he made a mistake, they were victims here and that shouldnât be overlooked,ââ he said.
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