Who was Richard Jewell?

Clint Eastwood is making a movie about the real-life story of a man named Richard Jewell. The movie will come out Dec. 12 and stars Paul Walter Hauser as the titular character.

If you’re younger, the name Richard Jewell may not be familiar, and even if you’re older, you may have a fuzzy memory of the man. We’ll be traveling back to a few horrific days in 1996 for this one to tell a cautionary tale about preconceived notions and police missteps.

The 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta. Jewell served as a security guard for AT&T and discovered a pipe bomb in a knapsack at Centennial Olympic Park, the central gathering place for attendees at the ’96 Games.

Because of Jewell’s discovery, police were able to attempt to evacuate the area before the bomb went off, saving many. Only one person died as a result of the bomb and 111 were injured.

However, his discovery of the bomb and his good deed of letting police officers know about it quickly made him a suspect in the bombing. He was cleared of all wrongdoing just 88 days later, but in that span of less than three months, his name and reputation had been tarnished.

In reality, the bomb was planted by Eric Robert Rudolph, in what would be the first of four bombings carried out by the domestic terrorist. Rudolph went on the run and was finally captured in May of 2003.


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