Richard Jewell’s Statement
Text of Richard Jewell’s statement at news conference Monday in Atlanta:
Thank you for coming here today. This is the first time I have ever asked you to turn the cameras on me.
You know my name, but you do not really know who I am. My name is Richard Jewell.
As I told you on July 30th, and as the government has admitted to you two days ago, I am not the Olympic Park bomber.
I am a man who from July 30th until October 26th lived every waking minute of those 88 days afraid that I would be arrested and charged with a horrible crime _ a crime I did not commit.
For 88 days, I lived a nightmare. For 88 days, my mother lived a nightmare, too.
Mom, thanks for standing by me and believing in me. I love you.
And like a brother to me, Watson Bryant, you stood by my side and defended me every chance you got for 88 days. Thank you Watson, from the bottom of my heart.
To all the other members of my legal team, Lin Wood, Wayne Grant and Jack Martin, who unfortunately could not be here today, thank you for your hard work and tireless efforts. I will never be able to repay you. Please remember guys, there is still a lot to do.
Today is a new and different day, part of my nightmare is ended. The criminal investigation is over. Now I must face the other part of my nightmare. While the government can tell you that I am an innocent man, the government’s letter cannot give me back my good name or my reputation.
The difficult task of trying to restore my reputation begins today, as I try to tell you something about the Richard Jewell that you do not know.
I am a citizen with rights, just like everybody else. I am a human being, with feelings, just like everybody else.
In its rush to show the world how quickly it could get its man, the FBI trampled on my rights as a citizen. In its rush for the headline that the hero was the bomber, the media cared nothing for my feelings as a human being.
In their mad rush to fulfill their own personal agendas, the FBI and the media almost destroyed me and my mother.
On the evening of July 27th, 1996, at Centennial Olympic Park, I did not set out to be a hero. I set out that night simply to do my job and to do it right. I was then and remain now an individual committed to the principles of law enforcement and the protection of the public.
I was trained to spot the unattended packages and to report such packages to the next person in the security chain of command.
That is what I did on the 27th of July. All I did was my job.
I moved people away from the unattended package and I evacuated people from the sound tower. All I did was my job.
When the explosion occurred, I saw my fellow officers and friends flying through the air. I saw people lying on the ground hurt, badly hurt.
The media started calling me a hero. I did not consider myself a hero. The bomb technician who crawled on his belly and got next to the bomb was a hero. The officers who took the shrapnel by placing their bodies between the package and where the people were in the park were the heroes.
The paramedics and firemen who responded so quickly and treated the injured were the heroes.
And then, the FBI and the media decided to portray me as the bomber. It was like being broadsided. Anybody who knew me understood that I could never hurt another person. I love people. I love children. I am a public servant. I felt numb, sick, I was in shock and felt helpless.
As the days passed, I kept waiting for the FBI to uncover the evidence that would point them in the right direction. But it did not happen, because they were looking in the wrong direction _ they were still looking at me.
You the media were looking, too. Your cameras trained on my mother and me. Your cameras and the FBI followed my every move. I felt like a hunted animal, followed constantly, waiting to be killed.
The media said I fit the profile of a lone bomber. That was a lie.
The media said I was a former law enforcement officer, a frustrated police wannabe. That was a lie. I was then and am now a law enforcement officer.
The fact that I was between jobs and took a position as a security guard at the Olympics did not change that fact.
The media said I was an overzealous officer. That was a lie. I always performed my job to the best of my ability and gave 110 percent. That’s not being overzealous. That’s being dedicated.
The media said I sought publicity for my actions. That was a lie. I did not seek to be called a hero, and I did not seek any publicity for doing my job. AT&T wanted the publicity, not me.
I have read the search warrant affidavits and I have either read or heard all the many things that have been said about me to try to make me look like a bomber. It was all a lie.
Now that I have received the government’s letter, I feel a sense of relief, even though I don’t think the fact that I have been cleared has fully sunk in.
After 88 days of hell, it is hard to believe that it is really over.
I want to thank my friends, who stood by me during the darkest of days. Many of them were subjected to FBI harassment, but they still stood by me and told the truth. I thank all of you out there in America and around the world who expressed support for me and outrage for what happened to me.
I hope and pray that no one else is ever subjected to the pain and the ordeal that I have gone through. In the future I hope that the authorities move with caution and not be overzealous in their desire to solve crimes.
The authorities should keep in mind the rights of the citizens. I hope that the media will curb its appetite for the substantial story by staying objective, by reporting truthfully, and not distorting the facts.
Let the headline be based on the facts. Don’t shape the facts to make the headline.
I will now move on with my life. I have not had time to focus on any definite plans, but I am going to try to re-enter law enforcement.
People might ask can I do that? Why would I want to do that, after all that has happened to me?
I do not look at law enforcement as a job. I love helping people. That’s what I do, that’s what I have done, and that’s what I want to continue to do in the future.
During the 88 days of this living nightmare, the knowledge that I did my job and the thought that in the process I may have saved lives helped keep me going.
My faith in God, and knowing that I was innocent, giving me peace of mind, that if I kept going forward, one day at a time, one day it would be over. I thank God that it has now ended, and that you now know what I have known all along. I am an innocent man. Thank you.