USA Today has done what NBC news didn't: Get salient and disturbing facts which don't corroborate the Rio cop narrative about Ryan Lochte's bathroom episode and report them. Turns Lochte wasn't the only one "over-exaggerating." USA Today's reporting is thorough, breaks new ground, and puts NBC, which spent millions to "cover" the Olympics, to shame. If you're getting your news about this episode from Matt Lauer, Lester Holt and NBC, you could do better.
At a news conference Thursday, Rio police chief Fernando Veloso characterized the athletes' actions at the gas station as vandalism. He said they also had broken a soap dispenser and mirror inside the restroom. Reports quickly grew that the Americans had trashed the restroom.
A USA TODAY Sports videographer who visited the bathroom Thursday found no damage to soap dispensers and mirrors and said none of those items appeared to be new. Some media accounts suggested the men had broken down a door, which USA TODAY Sports also did not observe.
...When approached on Tuesday by a USA TODAY Sports reporter who asked to see witness testimony related to the incident, the Rio de Janeiro civil police declined to give any information, saying the investigation was confidential.
By Thursday, after police had pulled Bentz and Conger off their U.S.-bound flight and detained them for questioning, police welcomed dozens of camera crews that squeezed into the station to film the men as they were escorted by cops into the office. Immediately after their interviews, police called a news conference – in a nearby theater – to announce the official version of events.
Shortly afterward the police released their reports of testimony given by Conger and Bentz that included statements casting doubt on Lochte's version of events. However, that testimony was missing a portion of the men's story – their interactions with armed security guards.
Rio's civil police declined to provide the testimony in its entirety when requested by USA TODAY Sports. By late Friday, even the partial testimony had been removed from the police's social media site.
Police accused Lochte and Feigen of filing a false police report, a crime punishable by a fine and up to six months in prison. Feigen paid $11,000 to be donated to a charity in order to not face charges.
Deborah Srour, an attorney who has practiced in Brazil for 25 years, said the two swimmers’ actions do not constitute a crime based on a strict reading of the Brazilian penal code.
“This crime only happens when you go to the police and you make a report, you file a report,’’ said Srour, who added that she has represented Americans arrested in Brazil. “This did not happen.’’