Crime

Overland Park police confirm they’re investigating 2 incidents involving Tyreek Hill

No charges for Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill after investigation

The Johnson County District Attorney said he won't file charges against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill or Hill's fiancee Crystal Espinal. It was the latest off-the-field development for Hill, who has a history of domestic violence.
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The Johnson County District Attorney said he won't file charges against Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill or Hill's fiancee Crystal Espinal. It was the latest off-the-field development for Hill, who has a history of domestic violence.

Overland Park police said Monday they are investigating two alleged incidents, including a reported battery, at the home of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and have forwarded a report to the local prosecutor’s office.

Hill has been involved in an investigation after police took reports of a battery and child abuse or neglect earlier this month at his Overland Park home.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe earlier on Monday said the investigation is still ongoing. The Kansas City Chiefs have confirmed to The Star that they are aware of a law enforcement investigation involving Hill, and the Kansas Department for Children and Families said it is investigating as well.

Hill, 25, is one of the Chiefs’ most prominent players and has a history of domestic violence. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to strangling his then-girlfriend Crystal Espinal. The two have recently been engaged and share a home in Overland Park.

Hill told The Star at the January Pro Bowl in Orlando that Espinal is pregnant with twins.

The most recent police report made public concerning Hill is dated Thursday, but it is unclear when the incident is thought to have occurred. The report concerns an alleged battery and lists a juvenile as the victim. Espinal, 24, is listed under “others involved.”

The location given on the report is the home shared by Hill and Espinal.

Another Overland Park police report dated March 5, concerning an investigation of child abuse or neglect, lists both Espinal and Hill as “others involved.” This report also lists the location as Hill and Espinal’s home.

That case was closed three days later when authorities declined to prosecute, according to the report. It would be possible for police to investigate the case again, though a Police Department spokesman declined to address the question specifically on Monday.

A source familiar with the situation said Hill’s fiancee has been in contact with Overland Park police. The source said that an incident was against the couple’s 3-year-old son, resulting in a broken arm.

The Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office have declined to discuss details of the case.

In a written statement Monday, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said his office “has received numerous requests for information about the Overland Park Police Department’s investigation of allegations regarding Tyreek Hill.

“While we understand the public’s concern, the investigation is still ongoing,” Howe’s statement said. “It would be irresponsible to make definitive ‘official’ statements before the investigation is complete.”

As of Monday morning, Hill had not been charged with a crime.

Under Kansas open records law, the front page of a police report is typically available to the public. It includes the time, date and location of a reported offense, but often little else.

Information about suspects or other details of an investigation are often located on the back page of the report or on subsequent pages that are not typically open to the public during an investigation.

The investigation comes as Hill and the Chiefs have been discussing a large contract extension that’s expected to make him among the highest-paid players at his position.

The Chiefs previously drew criticism in 2016 when the team drafted Hill despite his past.

Two years earlier, he had reportedly punched and choked Espinal, who was then eight weeks pregnant with their son, on Dec. 11, 2014. He was arrested and dismissed from the Oklahoma State football team. Hill pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery by strangulation in August 2015. He received three years probation. The Chiefs selected Hill in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The conviction was dismissed in August 2018 and ordered to be expunged after he completed his probation requirements.

DCF investigation

Few details have emerged from the current criminal investigation in Overland Park, and the same is true of the investigation underway by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

The state’s child welfare agency cannot release any information about the case and can say only that it is investigating, DCF spokesman Mike Deines said Monday.

Deines said he could not comment on when DCF began its investigation or how it was alerted to the allegations. He said he also could not say whether there was just one abuse or neglect report to the agency or more.

In general, when the agency receives an allegation of abuse or neglect a determination is made as to whether it is assigned to be investigated. According to policy, some calls require same-day follow up. There are eight criteria under that response, including calls about a child under one year of age, or where bruises and marks are visible and when the child is in imminent danger.

Other abuse and neglect allegations assigned to an investigator need to be followed up within 72 hours. Other calls are not assigned to be investigated but are referred for family services, such as child care assistance or financial help.

In some cases, DCF works alongside law enforcement.

“A lot of times there will be a dual investigation,” Deines said. “Law enforcement is doing their side of things and DCF has an investigator involved for the things we need to be looking at.”

He said he could not comment on whether an investigator is working alongside law enforcement in the case involving Hill.

According to policy, DCF investigators have 30 days to make a finding in a case, unless a delay is requested by a specific party. That would include law enforcement, prosecutors or health care professionals.

The Star reported late last year that an internal review of DCF showed that many investigations are not completed in a timely manner, with some taking several months, even up to a year or two to close.

But the agency has been addressing that concern and at this time, Deines said, 63 percent of the cases are completed within the 30 days. The agency is working to improve that to 85 percent, he said.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.
Laura Bauer came to The Star in 2005 after spending much of her life in southwest Missouri. She’s a member of the investigative team focusing on watchdog journalism. In her 25-year career, Laura’s stories on child welfare, human trafficking, crime and Kansas secrecy have been nationally recognized.
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