Criminal case against Tyreek Hill, fiancee reopened in the wake of leaked audio discussing alleged child abuse
Crystal Espinal apparently gave the audio tape to a friend, who passed it on to a local Kansas City station
Just a day after local prosecutors announced that Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill following a lengthy investigation into allegations of child abuse against his 3-year-old son, local CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City obtained and released an 11-minute audio clip of Hill and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, discussing the alleged incident, as well as their general treatment and discipline of their son.
In the wake of the clip's release, the criminal case against Hill and Espinal has been reopened, according to a subsequent report from KCTV. Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed that the case has indeed been reopened.
The contents of the audio clip -- which KCTV reports it was led to believe is part of an "insurance policy" that was given to a friend of Espinal -- are incredibly disturbing. In one portion of the clip, Espinal describes the couple's son as being "terrified" of Hill, and Hill responds, "You need to be terrified of me, too, b--ch."
Espinal also notes that their son repeatedly told law enforcement that "daddy" is the one who hit him, and then seemingly confirms that Hill does so when their son cries.
Espinal additionally tells Hill in the clip that she "rode for you with that detective," seemingly indicating that she was untruthful with law enforcement in order to protect him from the abuse allegations. Hill can be heard in the clip denying that he did anything to their son, but he also states that, "You use a belt too," after Espinal says, "What do you do when the child is bad? You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest."
It goes without saying that if the contents of this audio clip are to be believed, this is an extremely sad and apparently incredibly dangerous situation for the couple's young son. Law enforcement and other authorities need to take immediate steps to ensure his safety, as well as that of Espinal, as Hill told her she also needs to be terrified of him. (Hill had previously pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery charges in 2015 stemming from a December 2014 incident where he punched and choked his then-pregnant girlfriend, Espinal. He was given a three-year probation sentence.)
KCTV reportedly gave the above audio clip to local prosecutors, who are said to be reviewing it, and that could lead to a reversal of their decision not to charge Hill in connection with the alleged abuse of his son. Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe did state earlier this week that it was the position of his office that a crime occurred, but that he did not believe they had enough evidence to establish who committed said crime.
"This office has reviewed all the evidence and has declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal," Howe said. "We are deeply troubled by the situation. We believe a crime has occurred; however, the evidence in this case doesn't establish who committed a crime."
Regardless of whether or not he is charged, Hill could face league discipline under the personal conduct policy. Shortly before the leaked audio surfaced, commissioner Roger Goodell was asked on air about what the league would do regarding Hill, and he deferred to law enforcement, stating that the league needs to gather all the facts before making any kind of decision. The NFL has applied the policy seemingly at random over the years, so there is no telling how it will do so in this case.
Late Thursday night, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach addressed the leaked audio, as well as Hill's status with the Chiefs. He announced that Hill has been barred from all team activities for the foreseeable future, and asserted that the Chiefs will, "make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill." What that decision might be, or when the Chiefs might come to it, were not specified.
For the Chiefs, this is their second star player in the past several months to become involved in a scandal stemming from a violent incident. (They also traded for a third such player. Earlier this week, the Chiefs traded three draft picks to the Seattle Seahawks for defensive end Frank Clark, who was dismissed from the Michigan Wolverines after a domestic violence incident in 2014.) Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, now with the Browns, was of him shoving and kicking a woman. The Chiefs stated that Hunt lied to them about the contents of said video, and cut him from the team shortly after said video was released publicly.
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