08.29.07

The Carl Lewis Of Falsely Accused Security Guard Bombers, Dead At 44

Posted in non-sporting journalism, olympics at 3:36 pm by

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mike Morris :

Richard Jewell, the Centennial Olympic Park security guard once suspected ” but later cleared ” in the bombing of the park during the 1996 Summer Games, was found dead Wednesday in his home in Meriwether County. He was 44.

County coroner Johnny Worley said Jewell’s wife discovered him dead in their Woodbury home at about 10:30 a.m., and he was pronounced dead by Worley about 45 minutes later.

Jewell was initially lauded as a hero after a bomb went off at the July 27, 1996, Olympic celebration. He called attention to the suspicious knapsack that held a bomb and helped evacuate the area.

But days later he became the FBI’s chief suspect, as The AJC and other media outlets reported.

The FBI later cleared Jewell of any wrongdoing. He was never charged with a crime.

Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing in 2005 and is serving life in prison for it and other attacks.

After he was cleared, Jewell sued the Journal-Constitution and other media outlets for libel, arguing that their reports defamed him. Several news organizations settled, including NBC and CNN.

The Journal-Constitution did not settle. The newspaper has contended that at the time it published its reports, Jewell was a suspect, so the articles were accurate. The newspaper also has asserted that it was not reckless or malicious in its reports regarding Jewell. Much of Jewell’s case was dismissed last year.

Jewell’s passing deprives our nation of a desperately needed public servant who can tackle the thankless task of identifying suspicious knapsacks.  And let’s be clear —- all knapsacks are suspicious.

Andrew Giuliani should be graduating college soon, however, so there’s still hope.

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