Just one day after Johnson County, Kansas, prosecutors announced that Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill would not face charges of child abuse, the saga apparently has taken a turn.
Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV5 on Thursday revealed that its investigative department was sent what is purported to be a recording of the NFL player and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal, discussing the police investigation and what they were telling authorities.
The recording is believed to have been made in early March when the parents were walking through Dubai’s international airport. KCTV5 was told the recording was an “insurance policy” for Crystal Espinal.
Espinal sent it to at least one friend for safekeeping because she didn’t feel she could keep a recording on her phone. It has since been shared and sent to us by someone who is concerned about the welfare of the couple’s child.
The audio is 11 minutes long and abruptly cuts off. At no time on the recording does Hill admit to breaking his son’s arm. In fact, he flatly denies it.
Parts of the clip have been detailed (Warning: N*** language).
A portion of the Tyreek Hill audio with Crystal Espinal:
Espinal: "What do you do when the child is bad? You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest."
Hill: “You do use a belt. That’s sad,” Hill said. “Even my mama says you use a belt.”— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) April 26, 2019
Espinal: "He's terrified of you."
Hill: "You need to be terrified of me too, b****."— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) April 25, 2019
The Chiefs, who say they only learned of the video's existence at the same time the public did, suspended Hill early Friday morning with general manager Brett Veach releasing a statement on the matter.
Chiefs GM Brett Veach on Tyreek Hill: “Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyree and Crystal … in real time just the like general public. We were deeply disturbed by what we heard, deeply concerned.” pic.twitter.com/2FBGewZdi1— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 26, 2019
"Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyree and Crystal … in real time just the like general public," Veach said, in part. "We were deeply disturbed by what we heard, deeply concerned."
TMZ Sports reported that the police were called to Hill's home around 8:30 p.m. local time, about two hours after the audio clip was made public, though it's unclear if he was home at the time.
It was confirmed in March that Hill was being investigated by Overland Park, Kansas, police over two separate alleged incidents involving his son. Reports later added the boy was alleged to have suffered a broken arm in one of the incidents.
The couple temporarily lost custody of the child last week while the case was ongoing.
Earlier Thursday, Johnson County district attorney Steve Howe declined to press charges, but with a caveat, he said (via KMBC.com): "We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question. We believe that a crime has occurred. However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime."
Hill released a statement Thursday through his attorney, who added that his client cooperated with law enforcement during the process and maintains his innocence.
"I love and support my family above anything," Hill's statement read. "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."
Neither Hill nor his attorney have commented since the audio surfaced. Attempts by Omnisport to contact the player's representatives have been unsuccessful.
The Chiefs released a statement at the time of the investigation in March acknowledging that they were aware of it, and coach Andy Reid addressed the issue last week.
“I know you're going to potentially ask about Tyreek,” Reid told the Kansas City Star. "I don't have anything further to tell you from the statement we put out. There's been no new news on it. I'm going to leave it at that. I have had a chance to say hello to him. I have done that."
Espinal is the same woman Hill was accused of choking and punching in 2014. He was arrested and dismissed from Oklahoma State's football team before eventually pleading guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation in August 2015. The incident was expunged from his record in August 2018 after he completed sentencing requirements.
Hill, 25, was selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. The All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection caught 87 passes for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns for Kansas City last season.