NFL’s Tyreek Hill pulled from team activities over audio
After audio was made public purportedly of wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s fiancée suggesting the NFL star broke their 3-year-old son’s arm, the Kansas City Chiefs announced Thursday night that Hill will not participate in team activities.
The man identified as Hill also is heard on the recording telling his fiancée, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—-.”
CNN has not authenticated the audio, which was obtained and published Thursday by CNN affiliate KCTV. Its release follows the announcement by a Kansas prosecutor that Hill and his fiancée, Crystal Espinal, will not be criminally charged in connection with an investigation into their child’s welfare.
The recording, which is believed to date to early March, appears to have influenced the Chiefs’ decision to sideline Hill.
“Earlier this evening, we were made aware of the audio between Tyreek and Crystal,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach told reporters.
“We were made aware of this information in real time, just like the general public,” he said. “We were deeply disturbed by what we heard and deeply concerned. Now, obviously, we have great concern for Crystal, we are greatly concerned for Tyreek, but our main focus, main concern, is with the young child.”
Head Coach Andy Reid, at a news conference Friday to introduce a new player, tried to head off questions about Hill, saying: “We’ll stick with the statement we made last night about Tyreek.”
KCTV reports it has given the audio to a prosecutor, who is reviewing it.
Hill’s legal representatives and the NFL did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment about the audio recording. CNN has been unable to reach Espinal.
‘He is terrified of you,’ Hill’s fiancée reportedly says
In the recording, Hill and Espinal appear to discuss a police investigation of alleged abuse of their son, whose name is bleeped out.
Espinal asks, “Why does (the unnamed child) say, ‘Daddy did it?'”
Later in the recording, she states, “A 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”
Hill denies breaking his son’s arm in the recording. He also says, according to the tape, “I’m the one that gets physical with him,” referring to the child.
“He is terrified of you,” Espinal says of their son, according to the audio.
Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—-.”
KCTV reports the audio runs 11 minutes, though the station has published only short segments of it. KCTV received the recording from “someone who is concerned about the welfare” of Hill and Espinal’s child, the station reported.
‘We believe that a crime has occurred,’ DA says
The revelation of the audio follows a state investigation of Hill and Espinal regarding their child’s welfare.
In the recording, Espinal states, “I rode for you against that detective and the CPS (child protective services) people.”
KCTV published the audio one day after Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Steve Howe said his office would not press criminal charges following the child welfare probe of Hill and Espinal by the Overland Park, Kansas, Police Department and the state’s Department for Children and Families (DCF).
“We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question,” Howe told reporters Wednesday. “We believe that a crime has occurred. However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed the crime against this child.
“Despite this decision, there will be continued involvement by State officials to ensure the safety of the child,” the prosecutor said.
Howe declined to discuss who has custody of the child, but added, “What I can say is that the child is safe.”
Before the audio was made public, Hill earlier Thursday denied wrongdoing, saying, “I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority,” according to a statement by his legal team reported by the Kansas City Star’s Chiefs reporter, Brooke Pryor.
Overland Park police, Howe’s office and the DCF also didn’t respond right away to CNN’s request for comment late Thursday.
According to the Kansas City Star, Espinal is pregnant with twins.
Chiefs ‘will make the right decision,’ GM says
The Chiefs, meantime, will gather more information and evaluate the situation, Veach said Thursday night.
“We will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill,” he said.
Hill, 25, was selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the NFL draft in 2016. In the 2018 regular season, he caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also had one rushing touchdown and one punt return for a score.
According to multiple previous reports, including the Oklahoman, Hill was accused of domestic assault and battery on his then-pregnant girlfriend, Espinal, in 2014, when Hill played for Oklahoma State University. Per the Oklahoman, Hill pleaded guilty in 2015 and received three years’ probation. In August, the conviction was dismissed, and records were expunged.
Hill was dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team following the incident. He played the senior season of his collegiate career at the University of West Alabama, an NCAA Division II school.
When the Chiefs drafted Hill in 2016, there was outrage, prompting Reid to tell reporters at rookie minicamp, “I completely understand. I’m sensitive to the situation. I get it. I’ve talked to women on the other side of this, on the receiving side. So I’m very sensitive to that. A lot of guys don’t try to right the wrong. I give the kid credit for doing that and he’s really working hard at that. I completely understand the other side.”
The team has dealt with other issues of alleged domestic violence.
On November 30, the Chiefs released running back Kareem Hunt after a video from February 2018 surfaced appearing to show him pushing and kicking a woman. Hunt was signed by the Cleveland Browns in February.
In March, the NFL suspended Hunt for the first eight regular-season games without pay for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from physical altercations at his Cleveland residence in February 2018 and at a resort in Ohio in June.