Prosecutors in suburban Kansas City have reopened the criminal case against Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill after a television station aired audio on Thursday night that allowed viewers to hear a man identified as Hill threatening his fiance. She had accused him of injuring their 3-year-old son.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed the case’s reopening at a news conference to introduce newly acquired player Frank Clark on Friday afternoon.
The Chiefs banned Hill from football activities late Thursday night after the audio alleging child abuse aired.
In the recording broadcast by CBS affiliate KCTV, a voice identified as the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, tells Hill that her son said regarding who punched him, “Daddy did it.”
She adds, “He is terrified of you.”
A voice alleged to be Hill replies, “You need to be terrified of me, too, b—-.”
Espinal reportedly made the recording as an “insurance policy” and gave it to a friend, who passed it along to the TV station, according to a report from the Kansas City Star. The 11-minute recording, reportedly taped at a Dubai airport, includes Espinal accusing Hill of using a belt on the boy, along with an accusation that “you open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”
The Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s also was given a copy of the recording.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach held a press conference late Thursday to discuss the Hill situation.
“Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyreek and Crystal,” Veach read from a prepared statement. “We were made aware of this information in real time, just like the general public. 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. …
“I had the chance to call Drew Rosenhaus (Hill’s agent), and we decided at this time and for the foreseeable future, Tyreek Hill will not take part in any team activities. We are going to gather more information, we’re going to evaluate this information, and we will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill.”
Veach did not take questions from reporters.
The tape’s release came a day after the district attorney’s office announced it would not bring charges against Hill for child abuse and neglect. Officials said the criminal case was closed but could reopen with new evidence.
Hill’s attorneys insisted earlier Thursday that Hill is “innocent of any crime.”
For his part, the 25-year-old Hill released a statement through his lawyers before the recording came to light.
“I love and support my family above anything. My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority. I want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs, my attorneys, my agent and my union for supporting me through this. My focus remains on working hard to be the best person for my family and our community I can be, and the best player to help our team win,” Hill said in the statement.
Authorities had been investigating incidents — one on March 5 for child abuse and neglect, and one on March 14 for battery — at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan. Both police reports indicated a juvenile was involved.
Hill and Espinal were listed on the March 5 police report as “others involved.” On the March 14 report, Espinal was listed as “others involved,” with a juvenile listed as the victim.
The Kansas City Star reported previously that the couple’s son sustained a broken arm in the incident. The Star also reported earlier this week that the boy was recently removed from his parents’ custody as part of a family court process called a “child in need of care” case.
Even if he is not charged with a crime, Hill could be subject to discipline from the NFL.
–Field Level Media