The American director Clint Eastwood takes for hero, in his new film presented Wednesday in Los Angeles, the security agent wrongly suspected of having planted a bomb at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and caught in a media hunt that shattered his life .
Based on a true story, “Richard Jewell” tells the story of this former police officer, first celebrated as a hero for having found the backpack containing an explosive device in Atlanta, during the 1996 Summer Olympics. L he explosion left two dead and more than a hundred injured.
Even if his alert had made it possible to shelter hundreds of people, Richard Jewell was then very quickly presented by the press as a suspect, without being arrested or indicted.
“He was never given the chance to be presumed innocent,” Clint Eastwood told reporters at the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles.
The life of the then 33-year-old ex-police officer, who lived with his mother, has been scrutinized in great detail and presented in an unflattering light by the media.
Jewell is removed from the suspect list by the FBI after 88 days during which the television stations camped in front of his house, dissecting his life and chasing his relatives.
He died in 2007 at the age of 44 from heart problems related to diabetes.
“He did not deserve this. He was a real hero and he was judged in the media without it being supported by facts,” actor Jon Hamm, who plays an FBI agent, told AFP.
“It can happen again and it happens all the time, because information travels so fast,” said the actor who played the main role in the “Mad Men” series.
The real culprit Eric Rudolph was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison two years later.
The film was accused of taking liberties with the facts by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), which was instrumental at the time.
In the film, AJC reporter Kathy Scruggs has sex with an FBI agent in exchange for the suspect’s name. In an email sent to AFP on Wednesday, current AJC editor-in-chief Kevin G. Riley said “there is no evidence that this happened.”
21/11/2019 10:11:02 – Los Angeles (AFP) – © 2019 AFP