Editorials

Chiefs, NFL, Cleveland cops didn’t do Kareem Hunt, his victim or themselves any favors

ESPN interviews former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt about assault, TMZ video

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was interviewed about his alleged assault of a 19-year-old female in a Cleveland hotel on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and this is what he had to say.
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Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was interviewed about his alleged assault of a 19-year-old female in a Cleveland hotel on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and this is what he had to say.

The more we learn about just the last year of Kareem Hunt’s life, the more clearly we see how willfully the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL failed to intervene when they could and should have.

The Cleveland Police Department has now launched an internal investigation into how its officers, too, seem to have mishandled their investigation into the star running back’s actions in the Cleveland hotel where he kicked and shoved a 19-year-old woman last February.

Police, by their own admission, did not even ask the hotel for surveillance footage. They did make an arrest on that call, though — of a hotel guest who was trying to help the woman who got kicked. He’d loaned her his phone to call 911 and had been taking video of police in the hotel lobby before he was put in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct.

“Watching the surveillance footage would be the easiest thing in the world” for the Cleveland police to have done, former Cuyahoga County prosecutor Dan Margolis told USA Today. “In the footage that I’ve seen, the police were a lot more engaged with the (friends of Hunt’s) than they were interviewing (the victim). There’s a backstory here when it comes to women who are victims of crime not being taken seriously by Cleveland police.”

It’s telling that Hunt could stroll unscathed through three reported incidents of violence in a single year and still be cocooned in denial. And in the end, did any of the breaks he was given help either Hunt or the Chiefs?

Even after Hunt was “embarrassed” by the TMZ video of him kicking a woman, he noted in his televised half-apology that everyone gets angry sometimes. That level of self-deception only shows how desperately he and his victims needed his team, his league and police to step in more forcefully.

The NFL, as we know, never even interviewed Hunt about what happened in Cleveland. The Chiefs have said they accepted his account of what happened at face value.

As ESPN put it, “When it comes to the NFL and violence against women, the question clearly isn’t, ‘What did they know and when did they know it?’ It’s more like, ‘What did they want to know and when did they decide they had no choice but to know more?’ ’’

At the time of the February report, the Chiefs and the NFL already knew that Hunt was one of several men who’d reportedly punched and kicked a 38-year-old Gladstone man at the Mosaic nightclub in Kansas City in January. The victim in that case, who was treated at North Kansas City Hospital, suffered a broken rib and broken nose and said he was briefly knocked unconscious.

In a third incident, in June, Hunt was accused of punching a man in the nose at a resort in Ohio. Yet if that TMZ tape from February had not surfaced, Hunt would still be on the team.

First, the NFL let it be known that its officials had tried and tried to get more information about what happened in Cleveland but just hadn’t been able to. But that’s misleading at a minimum. Cleveland police did provide their report to the league through back channels.

The NFL only formally requested the surveillance video after the TMZ video came out, 10 months later. That’s when they requested information from the police department, too. And if they already had the police report, as they claim, why did they file for it again, if not to hide the fact that they’d known more than they pretended to? An NFL spokesman did not respond to that emailed question from The Star.

Almost four years ago, Robert Mueller’s report on the NFL’s non-investigation into the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice’s assault on his fiancée in Atlantic City found that “League investigators did not contact any of the police officers who investigated the incident, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, or the Revel (casino) to attempt to obtain or view the in-elevator video or to obtain other information. No one from the League asked Rice or his lawyer whether they would make available for viewing the in-elevator video they received as part of criminal discovery in early April. And, after the initial contacts with the Ravens in the immediate aftermath of the incident, League investigators did not follow up with the Ravens to determine whether the team had additional information.”

Sound familiar?

Too much so. And this week is also the sixth anniversary of the death of 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, who was shot nine times by the Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher before he shot and killed himself in front of his coach and general manager at Arrowhead Stadium.

The NFL has changed its policies since the Rice scandal, but it doesn’t always follow them.

Ultimately, it’s fans who would have to expect more for any of this to change substantially, rather than as a PR exercise. But last week, Washington signed linebacker Reuben Foster just two days after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers following an arrest on a domestic violence charge in Tampa. His ex has said she’s shocked that another team picked him up. But in the town where pregnant-girlfriend puncher and throttler Tyreek Hill plays, we can’t claim to be.

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