World

U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, translator disagree on gun pointing at Rio gas station

A man who helped translate conversations between Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, his teammates and armed security guards at a gas station says a gun wasn't pointed at them during the encounter.

12-time Olympic medallist and teammates accused of lying about robbery, vandalizing gas station

U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte posted a statement on social media to quell the controversy caused by his claim that he and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in Rio. (Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

A man who helped translate conversations between Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, his teammates and armed security guards at a gas station says a gun wasn't pointed at them during the encounter.

Fernando Deluz, a 38-year-old disc jockey, also said the American athletes involved in the incident decided to pay for property they destroyed to avoid calling police.

But nearly as soon as his story came out, Lochte gave a different account in a detailed statement, saying two guns were pointed at the athletes as the event unfolded.

The incident has become a defining story of the Rio Games. Brazilian police have said Lochte was lying when he said he was robbed, and police said that instead, the swimmers vandalized a bathroom while intoxicated.

Lochte apologized on Instagram and Twitter for not being "more careful and candid" about how he described the incident, but maintained a gun was pointed at him by a stranger and that the swimmers were forced to pay money to leave the gas station.

Ryan Lochte's statement:

Deluz said he had stopped at the gas station around 6 a.m. on Sunday after working a party all night. There, security guards had confronted the swimmers about a bathroom door they apparently forced open.

When two swimmers walked off, Deluz says one of the two security guards put one hand on his gun and pointed at the ground, telling the men in Portuguese to sit. The other guard stood by but did nothing, Deluz says.

'No aggression'

"There was no aggression. Pointing a gun at them? Never. There was nothing like that," Deluz said during an interview with The Associated Press.

Police have gone back and forth about whether guns were pulled on the swimmers. Gunnar Bentz, who returned to the U.S. on Friday, described two guns being drawn.

"The first security guard held a badge to me and drew his handgun," Bentz said.

He said he yelled at two teammates who were walking away to come back. "Then the second guard drew his weapon and both guards pointed their guns at us and yelled at us to sit on a nearby sidewalk."

In this image made from video, U.S. Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger walk in the departure area after checking into their flight at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday. (Associated Press)

Deluz said he began to translate when he realized the swimmers did not understand the guards.

"That is when they started saying, 'No police. Please, don't call police!"' said Deluz.

Two days later, upon reading Lochte's initial account of a robbery, Deluz says he was surprised to learn that the men were Olympic swimmers.

"They made a lot of mistakes," said Deluz. "But the worst was that they lied about what happened."

Prosecutors too slow to catch up with Jimmy Feigen

Meanwhile, a Brazilian judge on Saturday suspended permission for one of the athletes, Jimmy Feigen, to leave the country, but the decision came too late.

Feigen flew home hours earlier on Friday night, police sources said, after agreeing in an earlier hearing to pay a 35,000 real ($11,000 US) fine for lying about being robbed at the gas station.

Prosecutors quickly appealed the penalty as being too low, persuading the judge to suspend the earlier ruling that had given Feigen the green light to leave.
 
The prosecutors had asked for a 150,000 reais ($46,800 US) fine for Feigen and said the court had not followed proper legal procedure in unilaterally reducing this. They also said the fine was not high enough "given the gravity and wide negative repercussions of the crime committed by the swimmer."

It was not clear what impact the decision might have on Feigen.
 
 

With files from Reuters

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now