Richard Jewell was working as a security guard in the 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta. In the early morning, he found a suspicious olive-green backpack under a bench in Centennial Park. He alerted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers for investigation. Richard became the hero in the eye of the public after saving many lives. But under 72 hours, his life completely changed when the FBI and media made him the prime suspect of the incident. The president of Piedmont College, Ray Cleere, informed the FBI about the unpleasant experience when Richard was employed there. Hence, the FBI decided to do a background check and found the psychological evaluation he had to undergo during his job as a security guard in the apartment complex.
In the movie, they accuse the reporter Kathy Scruggs of using sex to get the information from an FBI agent Tom Shaw about Richard Jewell, which is entirely wrong and malicious. After a few years, when he was declared innocent, he decided to sue everyone from Ray Cleere to the big media agencies for damages with his lawyer friend, Watson Bryant. In total, Richard Jewell and Watson Bryant have filed suits against the FBI, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN, New York Post, and the Piedmont College.
Except for the Atlanta Journal, everyone settled with Richard Jewell. Even after he died in 2007 due to diabetic-related problems, the case against the newspaper kept running till July 2011. When the Georgia Court ruled in favor of the Atlanta Journal, stating that he was a suspect of the bomb plantation when the article was published. The New York Times stated that many officials had said privately that Richard was involved in the bomb planting. Still, there wasn’t single evidence showing that Richard Jewell was involved. Even though there wasn’t any evidence, the FBI searched twice, talked with the associates, done background checks, and even kept him in 24-hour surveillance.
The FBI’s pressure reduced after his lawyer Watson Bryant arranged the polygraph test, which he passed successfully. Justice Department investigation found that the FBI tried to manipulate Richard by misleading him to make a videotape confession. Richard Jewell had spent 88 days as a prime suspect for doing nothing. Eric Robert Rudolph was a man behind the bomb who was arrested in 2005. Richard Jewell’s story shows how brutally far the media can go for a big story.