RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian police said Thursday that swimmer Ryan Lochte and three U.S. teammates were not robbed after a night of partying, and the intoxicated athletes instead vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.
The robbery that was or wasn’t has become the biggest spectacle outside of the Olympic venues in Rio, casting a shadow over American athletes amid an otherwise remarkable run at the Summer Games. The ordeal was also a blow to Brazilians, who for months endured scrutiny about whether the city could keep athletes and tourists safe given its long history of violence.
“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said during a news conference.
The police account came in direct contrast to claims from Lochte’s attorney earlier in the week. The attorney, Jeff Ostrow, had insisted the swimmer had nothing to gain by making the story up. He, as well as Lochte’s father and agent, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The swimmers could potentially face punishment — probation, suspension, a fine or expulsion — under USA Swimming’s code of conduct. It was not clear if the swimmers would face criminal charges, though police said the athletes could be charged with destruction of property, falsely reporting a crime or both.
Two of the swimmers — Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger — checked in to a flight out of Brazil late Thursday after a judge lifted the order seizing their passports and keeping them in the country. They had testified about the incident earlier in the day, and Brazilians chanted “liar” as they left the police building.
“They did not lie in their statements. They never lied to journalists. They only stayed quiet. They did not know what was going on,” attorney Sergio Riera said.
The last swimmer in Rio, Jimmy Feigen, provided an updated statement to police, U.S. Olympic officials said, and hoped to get his passport back shortly to return home.
The saga began when Lochte claimed that he and his teammates were held at gunpoint and robbed several hours after the last Olympic swimming races ended. But police then said they didn’t have evidence to substantiate the story. Their passports were ordered seized so the investigation could continue, but Lochte had already left the country.
While some details in the official account of the story changed on Thursday — police first said no guns were involved, then said two guards pointed weapons at the swimmers — security video confirmed the athletes vandalized parts of the gas station, leading to an encounter with station employees.
The closed-circuit video shows one of the swimmers pulling a sign off of a wall and dropping it onto the ground. A gas station worker arrives, and other workers inspect the damage. Veloso said the swimmers broke a door, a soap dispenser and a mirror.
The swimmers eventually talk with station workers as their cab leaves.
As they talk, two of the swimmers briefly raise their hands and all four sit down on a curb. After a few minutes, the swimmers stand up and appear to exchange something — perhaps cash, as police said — with one of the men.
The footage doesn’t show a weapon, but a police official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said two guards pointed guns during the encounter. Veloso said the guards did not use excessive force and would have been justified in drawing their weapons because the athletes “were conducting themselves in a violent way.”
A station employee called police, and the guards and employees tried to get the swimmers and the taxi driver to stay until authorities arrived, some even offering to help interpret between English and Portuguese, Veloso said. But he said the athletes wanted to leave, so paid 100 Brazilian reals (about US $33) and $20 in U.S. currency and left.
Conger and Bentz told authorities that the story of the robbery had been fabricated, said the police official who spoke to the AP about the guns.
Police said the swimmers were unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated. The police official said officers grew suspicious when security video showed the swimmers returning to the athletes village wearing watches, which would have likely been taken in a robbery.
“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” Lochte told NBC’s “Today” the morning after the incident. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground.
“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”
Lochte backed off some of those claims as the week went on, saying the taxi wasn’t pulled over, and that the athletes were robbed after stopping at a gas station. Lochte also said a man pointed a gun toward him, but not at his head.
The swimmers did not call police, authorities said, and officers only began investigating after they saw news coverage with Lochte’s mother speaking about the incident. Lochte also said the swimmers didn’t initially tell U.S. Olympic officials what happened because “we were afraid we’d get in trouble.”
While he’s medaled often, Lochte’s accomplishments have long been overshadowed by teammate Michael Phelps — the most decorated Olympian in history. Lochte, a 12-time medalist, won a gold in Rio in a relay race alongside Phelps.
The robbery debacle prompted both wild speculation and social media mockery, which quickly turned to scorn after the official account went public. #LochteGate trended on Twitter, with users sharing video footage and posting comments about white privilege and rude Americans. Memes mocking the Lochte lie proliferated almost immediately.
David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia, said the incident touched a nerve in Brazil because of the country’s history and cases of people committing crimes while impersonating police.
“The story did have some sense of validity but it didn’t bear out and it made them look bad worldwide,” he said.
AP reporters Beth Harris, Chris Lehourites, Pauline Arrillaga and Renata Brito in Rio de Janeiro, and Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina, contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the lawyer for two of the swimmers is Sergio Riera, not Sergio Viegas.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Images filed as evidence in a lawsuit against the U.S. Border Patrol citing inhumane conditions in Arizona detention facilities show men jammed together under a thin thermal blanket trying to stay warm and a woman using a concrete floor strewn with trash to change a baby’s diaper.
The photos made public Thursday are from cell surveillance video inside least four Border Patrol stations.
They were submitted late Wednesday in a lawsuit against the Border Patrol for conditions described as disgusting in the agency’s Tucson sector, which makes up most of Arizona.
The National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU argued in court that the images should be made public to help prove allegations that the Border Patrol routinely holds immigrants in extremely cold and dirty cells.
Government lawyers representing the Border Patrol argued for the photos and other documents to be kept from public view, saying their release would violate privacy rights of migrants and Border Patrol and could raise security concerns.
The faces of people that show up in the images that were released were blacked out. Pictures made public in June showed rusty toilets, dirty toilet paper on the floor and a malfunctioning water fountain in the detention areas. Another image released Thursday showed a child crawling on a cell’s concrete floor.
Some of the most troubling photos showed children sitting around trash, said Nora Preciado, a staff attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. Others showed empty cells filled with sleeping mats while nearby cells had people in them but no mats.
The images also showed more than 20 men crammed into one cell, covering themselves with thin thermal blankets made of extremely thin material.
“I have visited many detention facilities in my 11 years as an attorney and I have to say what the Border Patrol facilities look like really is deplorable and disgusting,” Preciado said.
The Border Patrol issued a statement that did not directly address the images but insisted it is “committed to the safety, security and welfare of those in our custody, especially those who are most vulnerable.”
The holding facilities are also subject to unannounced inspections by the Department of Homeland Security, the statement added.
The cells shown in the images are designed to provide short-term shelter for detainees until they can be processed, the agency said.
Migrants are usually deported or transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has long-term detention centers.
U.S. Judge David C. Bury in September issued sanctions against the Border Patrol over destruction of surveillance video evidence in the case.
The coalition that filed the lawsuit was then allowed to inspect and photograph four of the eight stations with holding cells. It now receives continuous surveillance video from the Border Patrol as ordered by Bury, Preciado said.
The lawsuit was originally filed on behalf of three immigrants who said they were held in freezing cells while waiting to be transferred.
It was turned into a class-action lawsuit and the groups that sued have interviewed more than 75 former detainees who described cells as filthy and lacking basic needs such as beds.
The lawsuit also accuses the Border Control agency of failing to adequately screen detainees for dangerous medical conditions and for failing to provide adequate access to medical treatment from health care workers.
The Border Patrol said last year that agents “make every effort to ensure that those in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed.”
NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile is phasing out data limits and pushing people toward unlimited data plans — which will mean higher prices for many new customers.
Although T-Mobile is cutting the price of the unlimited plan, those who haven’t been using that much data might eventually pay more for unlimited data they don’t need.
T-Mobile’s announcement Thursday comes a day after AT&T said it would raise prices on some plans while giving customers more data. Verizon made a similar move last month.
The wireless industry has become increasingly competitive over the past few years given that most people already have smartphones. Carriers have had to reduce prices to lure customers from rivals and have tried to make up the revenue by selling larger data plans.
T-Mobile has also tried to make its plans more appealing by letting many customers stream video from dozens of services including Netflix, ESPN and HBO without eating up data. Making all its plans unlimited is an extension of that, given that video is one of the biggest drains on data.
Starting Sept. 6, T-Mobile will cut the price of its unlimited plan and start phasing out plans that have data limits. There’s no date for when the older plans won’t be available — a new customer could still get them after Sept. 6 — but the new unlimited plan will eventually be T-Mobile’s “main offer,” spokeswoman Bethany Frey said.
Existing customers can keep their plans for now.
Unlimited isn’t really unlimited, though. Customers who use more than 26 gigabytes in a given month may have their speeds slowed if there is network congestion.
Those who already have an unlimited T-Mobile plan now could save with the new prices. For one person, the price is dropping to $70 from $95 a month for customers who don’t mind DVD-level video quality. Those who want high-definition video pay an extra $25 a month, or the same as what they pay now.
Families who have plans with six or 10 gigabytes a month per person — T-Mobile’s most popular plans now — could see their overall bills go up or down. With four people getting six gigabytes each, the price could rise $40, to $160; five people getting 10 gigabytes each would pay $10 less at $180. Individuals could pay $5 more or $10 less with the new option, depending on their current plan.
T-Mobile also currently has a 2 GB plan that costs $50 a month. The company suggested that customers who want to pay less than $70 for unlimited could switch to a prepaid service, in which monthly bills are paid ahead of time.
Following T-Mobile’s announcement, Sprint also said that it would cut the price of its unlimited plan — to $60 a month for individuals, from $75. The second line is now $40 extra instead of $45.
Unlimited plans used to be the norm. But as smartphones took off with the iPhone’s debut and later the popularity of Android, carriers eliminated them to address network congestion and increase revenue opportunities with higher data buckets.
There’s been a reversal. Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing unlimited plans recently as ways to distinguish themselves from their larger rivals. AT&T reintroduced an unlimited plan in January for customers who also took DirecTV or its home-TV service U-verse. Verizon no longer offers them to new customers and has been trying to push older customers off such plans with rate hikes and other measures.
ISTANBUL (AP) — A Qatar Airways passenger jet with over 300 people on board made an emergency landing at Istanbul’s main airport Thursday after an engine caught fire, the airline said, blaming a “bird strike” for the blaze.
Video footage showed flames spitting out of the left engine of the Airbus 330 as it prepared to land at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. It made it safely to the ground.
Doha-based Qatar Airways later issued a statement to The Associated Press saying that “all 298 passengers and 14 crew disembarked normally.” However, local Turkish news agencies reported one woman on board was hospitalized after suffering a fainting spell.
It said it would send a replacement aircraft to Istanbul to ferry waiting passengers onward to its hub in the vast new Hamad International Airport in Doha, which is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The airline blamed the fire on Flight QR240 on what it described as a “bird strike,” without elaborating. Typically, such strikes can see birds sucked into a passenger plane’s jet engine, sparking a fire and shorting it out.
State-backed Qatar Airways is one of the Mideast’s three biggest carriers, alongside the region’s biggest carrier, the Dubai-based Emirates airline, and the Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. The three have increasingly challenged Western airlines in long-haul flights.
Qatar Airways has a fleet of 190 aircraft flying to over 150 destinations. It holds a 20.01-percent stake in British Airways and Iberia parent IAG and posted net profits of $445 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, with revenue peaking to $9.6 billion.
Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ride-hailing service Uber says it will start hauling passengers with self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh in next several weeks.
The company says its autonomous Ford Fusions will have human backup drivers but will transport passengers just like normal Uber vehicles.
Uber has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh and is working on autonomous technology.
Also Thursday, Uber and Volvo announced a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. Eventually the Volvo SUVs will be part of the self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh. Volvo will develop base vehicles for research and both companies will develop autonomous vehicles on their own.
The ride-hailing company also announced that it is acquiring a self-driving startup called Otto that has developed technology allowing big rigs to drive themselves.
The maneuvers are intended to significantly accelerate Uber into the quest to deploy self-driving vehicles to the public. It’s also the latest tie-up between Silicon Valley, ride-hailing firms and major automakers.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the ride-sharing company’s future — indeed, the future of all transportation — is driverless. The deals are a bold down payment on that vision, one characteristic of the ambitious Uber, a company valued in the billions.
With the acquisition of Otto, Uber gets a fast infusion of self-driving expertise, including Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski.
Self-driving technology is not ready for the masses. Hurdles include software that is not yet good enough for public rollout, safety concerns raised by state and federal regulators, and uncertainty over society’s readiness to trust robot drivers.
But the race is on. Large tech and auto companies suggest they could start selling self-driving cars within three to five years.
If history is any guide, that push will begin with high-end models that few people can afford. Uber’s vast on-demand auto fleet could presumably bring the technology to ordinary people more quickly.
Uber, however, isn’t alone in the race for autonomous vehicles. It’s not even a leader.
The company’s primary U.S. competitor, Lyft, received a $500 million investment from GM earlier this year. Those two companies said they plan to put self-driving vehicles into Lyft’s fleet on a small scale sometime in the next year. GM also bought itself some self-driving expertise in March with the acquisition of a company called Cruise Automation.
This week, Ford Motor Co. announced — in Silicon Valley, not Detroit — that it intends to have a self-driving vehicle on the road by 2021. The car will have neither a steering wheel nor pedals and will be rolled out for commercial ride-hailing services, not directly to consumers.
Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. is even further ahead in pursuing driverless cars that offer passengers little control beyond an emergency stop button. Google began testing its fleet of prototype self-driving cars on public roads in 2009.
Though the Google car project just lost its director, Chris Urmson, it has a big head start. Its leaders have suggested they could launch public pilot tests of cars with no steering wheels or pedals in the next year or two.
In the small but growing community of self-driving vehicle experts, Levandowski is a founding father. Putting robotic vehicles on the road has been his obsession. One earlier effort, a self-driving motorcycle named Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Until the start of this year, Levandowski was at Google. He left to found Otto with two other former Google employees.
After outgrowing the leafy Palo Alto neighborhood where they worked on their first rigs, Levandowski moved his headquarters to San Francisco and came out of stealth mode by posting a video of a truck driving itself down a Nevada highway. An actor sitting at a table in the cab jots notes on a pad of paper.
Levandowski’s business proposition was straightforward. Big rigs spend most of their time on highways, making them a relatively easy problem to solve. Unlike bustling city streets, highways have well marked lanes, little or no cross traffic, and other features that make them far easier for a self-driving vehicle to navigate.
Indeed, Levandowski was commuting to work in a Google self-driving Prius several years ago.
CHICAGO (AP) — Jorge Soler has made the Chicago Cubs’ lineup deeper by going deep.
Soler, who hit a three-run home run to lead Chicago to a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, has hit seven home runs in seven starts since coming off the disabled list in early August. He’s hitting .379 in 10 games over that stretch.
“When Jorge is in there it makes a deep, long lineup,” said Cubs catcher David Ross, who hit a solo home run as the Cubs won their third straight and 17th in 20 games.
“When he was out … the lineup was shortened, you know, once you get past a certain guy, it’s a little easier to navigate the lineup,” Ross said.
Hitting in the sixth spot, Soler sent Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson’s 2-2 pitch far over the wall in left-center field, depositing it just under the videoboard atop the stands.
The homer capped a five-run first inning after RBI singles by Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell.
That made for an easy night for Cubs starter Jon Lester (13-4), who got his fourth straight win, giving up one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven. He hasn’t lost since July 3.
“You get five runs after the bottom of the first, it kind of relaxes you, you don’t have to grind as much,” Lester said.
Lester and the rest of the Cubs starting pitchers have been magnificent, going 11-0 in August, with Chicago’s only two losses being hung on relievers. But Lester credited the offense for the starters’ success.
“It makes our lives as pitchers a lot easier when they’re consistent, and doing what they’ve been doing pretty much the whole year for us,” Lester said. “We just kind of go about our business after what they do.”
Nelson (6-13) walked leadoff batter Dexter Fowler then hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to begin the first. Then came Soler’s home run.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Soler has worked on staying patient since coming back from the DL.
“He’s really staying in the zone,” Maddon said.
Carl Edwards Jr. and Travis Wood combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cubs.
Nelson is 1-10 over his last 14 starts.
Milwaukee rarely threatened Lester. The Brewers got a run in the sixth when Keon Broxton singled, then stole two bases before scoring on a groundout by Orlando Arcia. Milwaukee loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the second inning, but Lester got Nelson to ground into an inning-ending forceout.
The loss was the fifth in six games for the Brewers.
“We’re having a tough go of it putting together offense,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “But there’s no breaks, no quit. We just keep going at it.”
LA STELLA RETURNS
Cubs INF Tommy La Stella will report to Double-A Tennessee, and Maddon said he hopes La Stella will be back with the big league team by early September. La Stella was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 29, but refused to report, and the Cubs placed him on the temporary inactive list on Aug. 9. La Stella reportedly said he was contemplating retirement. “He’s reported to Double-A, and moving on up to Triple-A, and he’ll be back here probably by the first of September,” Maddon said before the game. La Stella, 27, was hitting .295 in 51 games for the Cubs this season before the demotion.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun is day-to-day after crashing into a wall at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Braun injured his left knee and ankle and was out of the lineup Wednesday. Braun and Counsell said he might be ready to play Thursday in Chicago and is expected to play over the weekend in Seattle. … RHP Chase Anderson, who was hit in the left quadriceps by Bryant’s comebacker Tuesday, said he felt much better and would play light catch and evaluate from there. Counsell said Anderson might be well enough to start in the Brewers’ three-game series in Seattle.
Cubs: OF Chris Coghlan was placed on the 15-day DL on Wednesday with a right rib contusion. … RHP Joe Smith was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. The sidearm reliever said he didn’t feel right during his ninth-inning appearance on Tuesday, when he walked two of the three hitters he faced, and that it might be a recurrence of an injury from May.
The Cubs send RHP Jake Arrieta (14-5, 2.55) to the mound for the series finale on Thursday. RHP Zach Davies (9-5, 3.80) will pitch for the Brewers.