Despite the fact that police never arrested Jewell and finally discontinued the inquiry, and the actual bomber was located, his lawyer and friend Watson Bryant believes many people still believe Jewell "had something diabolical to do with the explosion." It's simply ignorance. He categorically did not. "I think most people don't know the facts of the case," says Bryant.
Here are the facts: In April 1996, the FBI released a photo album featuring the faces of suspects wanted for questioning in connection with several bombings on the Atlanta metro system. Under the caption "Have you seen this man?" they asked for help identifying Richard Jewell, a security guard at the Summer Olympics who had just been photographed by a news crew outside the Olympic Village. The photo showed a clean-shaven young man with light brown hair wearing glasses. Within days, police received more than 7,000 tips from around the world. They even had a suspect video tape made up to show how much money could be won in the lottery. But none of it helped identify the real bomber. Who was it?
Jewell is a native of Georgia who moved to America when he was only 10 years old. He grew up in Miami Beach and became a police officer himself before becoming a security guard. In July 1996, he found out he had become a prime suspect in the worst terrorist attack at the hands of an American during the Olympics.
12 weeks later, Jewell was exonerated, and Eric Rudolph was named as the bombing suspect in 1998. Rudolph later pled guilty and is currently serving a life sentence in jail, while Jewell died in 2007 at the age of 44. According to the newspaper, Warner Bros. is planning a movie about Jewell's case.
Richard Wayne Jewell (July 4, 1959 - July 27, 2007) was an American security guard who was convicted for the 1996 bombing of the Atlanta Olympics that killed one person and injured many others. Police initially suspected two other men of involvement but later released them after finding no evidence against them. Jewell served more than 12 years in prison before being exonerated by new DNA evidence. He died several months after his exoneration from heart disease caused by the trauma of his arrest and conviction.
In addition to his work as a security guard, Jewell played baseball and basketball in college and briefly in the minor leagues. He became interested in law enforcement work and joined the South Carolina Highway Patrol before moving to Georgia where he worked for the Atlanta Police Department. In 1994, he was promoted to detective and assigned to the Olympic Park Crime Unit.
In 1995, shortly before the start of the Atlanta Olympics, police received an anonymous letter claiming that a man was going to detonate a bomb during the games.
A Justice Department investigation into the FBI's conduct discovered that the FBI attempted to trick Jewell into waiving his constitutional rights by telling him he was taking part in a bomb detection training film, despite the fact that the report concluded "no intentional violation of Mr. Jewell's civil rights and no criminal...
Despite the fact that he was never prosecuted, he was subjected to a "trial by media," which had a negative impact on both his personal and professional life. After 88 days of public examination, Jewell was exonerated as a suspect. Eric Rudolph subsequently admitted to the bombing and other acts and pled guilty. He is serving three consecutive sentences of life in prison.
Richard Jewell, who was working as a security officer when a bomb went off near the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, causing two deaths and injuring more than 100 people. Police initially suspected him of involvement in the attack, but later said they did not have enough evidence to charge him with any crime. However, the media continued to report that he was responsible for the blast, and many people still believe he is guilty of something.
After the incident, Richard's life fell apart. His employer, the City of Atlanta, terminated his contract, and he was forced to file for unemployment benefits. In addition, many news organizations published articles naming him as a suspect even after he had been cleared by police. This bad publicity continued even after the real bomber was arrested, so it can be assumed that at least some of these reports were inaccurate. However, several journalists have argued that if Jewell wanted to clear his name, he could have sued them for defamation. But instead of doing that, he chose to leave America and live in Russia, where he became a citizen.
According to the 1996 TIME cover article on the bombing, "the young, cheery revelers, many of whom were brandishing cups of beer, didn't take orders very well." Within minutes, the contents of the bag, a pipe bomb laden with nails, exploded, killing one person and wounding over 100 others. The catastrophe may have been far worse if Jewell had not kept a close eye on things. Before the explosion, he had gone to the bathroom and returned about five minutes later. The party was still going strong at that point.
Here's how the article described what happened next: "Jewell saw blood dripping from a woman's nose and rushed toward her. She was unconscious but alive. Another woman had been shot in the chest but was moving her arms and legs. A third victim, also alive, had several shrapnel wounds but no apparent life-threatening injuries."
After the ambulance arrived, the police investigation began. They asked everyone present at the party for information about the bomber or bombers. One man said he saw a black male leave the scene with a gun in his hand. Police released photographs of two suspects they wanted to question. People came forward with tips about other possible attackers, including one person who said she saw three men in dark suits kicking down the door to the apartment where the party was being held. No arrests were made based on these leads.
In August 1996, more than a year after the bombing, investigators received an anonymous letter claiming responsibility for the attack.