Running back Kareem Hunt was released by the Chiefs hours after video footage published Friday showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a hallway.
“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt,” read a statement issued by the Chiefs on Friday night. “At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”
The video of Hunt, obtained and published by TMZ Sports, is related to a February 2018 altercation on an early Saturday morning at The Metropolitan at the 9, Hunt’s hotel apartment in downtown Cleveland. Police were called and a written report was previously made, but video footage was not available until it was published by TMZ.
“I want to apologize for my actions,” Hunt said in a statement to ESPN. “I deeply regret what I did. I hope to move on from this.”
In response to an email from The Star inquiring about the NFL’s knowledge of the video, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “Neither the NFL nor the Chiefs viewed the video before it became public today.”
According to a source with knowledge of the NFL’s investigation, the hotel told NFL representatives that it could only give video to law enforcement under corporate policy; the NFL contacted the Cleveland Police Department, which did not provide the NFL any video; and the NFL contacted the alleged victims, who did not respond to multiple messages.
Minutes before the Chiefs took action, the NFL said Hunt, who led the league in rushing as a rookie last season, had been placed on the NFL’s Commissioner Exempt List and that it “will include a review of the new information made public today” in the investigation it first opened in February. Hunt cannot practice or play in games for any NFL team while on the exempt list.
In the video, Hunt is seen coming out of a room and talking to a woman off camera. When she approached Hunt, he shoved her, and she hit him in the face. When another man came out of the hotel room and tried to intervene, Hunt continued to lunge toward the woman. As more people came into the hallway, Hunt had to be restrained several times as he made advances toward the woman and other people. At one point, Hunt appeared to knock two people over with a shove, including the woman he initially shoved. At the end of the video, Hunt kicked the woman as she was crouched on the ground.
The Chiefs and NFL did not take any action against Hunt after the altercation was reported to police in February. Hunt fully participated in Friday’s practice and was in the locker room afterward. He was spotted leaving the Chiefs’ facility at 2 p.m in his vehicle. The video was posted by TMZ at 1:33 p.m. The NFL statement was issued around 7:30 p.m. and the Chiefs released him shortly before 8 p.m.
No charges have been filed stemming from the altercation, which occurred on Feb. 10, but two police reports were created. In one report, 19-year-old Abigail Ottinger is listed as a suspect, and in another Hunt is listed as a suspect.
Ottinger told police that Hunt “shoved and pushed her.” There was no mention of a kick in either police report or in police interviews with involved parties.
According to one of the police reports, Ottinger and a friend told police they were Kent State students and were traveling to Cleveland bars with Hunt and his friends on a party bus. According to the police reports, Ottinger and her friend went back to Hunt’s hotel apartment, and Hunt’s friend told police that he kicked the girls out of the apartment when he learned they were 19. Ottinger told police they were kicked out because she “didn’t want” one of the men in the group. The man was not specifically identified. According to Hunt’s friend in one of the reports, Ottinger called Hunt and his friends racial slurs when they were told to leave. Once outside of the room, the report says, Ottinger and her friend banged on the hotel door “about 20 times. Ottinger eventually sat down on the ground outside the room, according to the report, and that’s when Hunt and another friend came outside to tell them to “go home” and Hunt “shoved and pushed” her.
The description of the violence in the police reports is brief, but in one, the police report that “the pushing and shoving caused abrasions on her left knee, right hand and a scratch on (Ottinger’s) chest.” Also in the same report, Ottinger’s friend said “‘all the boys’ began ‘chasing’ (Ottinger) around and trying to ‘hit’ her.” According to the report, the friend tried to record the this when one of Hunt’s friends took the phone out of her hand. She said that when she went after him, someone grabbed her and she fell to the floor.
TMZ also published a 15-second body cam video Friday of a shirtless Hunt talking to police.
Hunt was also involved in another altercation in June when he allegedly punched a man in the face at an Ohio resort. Hunt was not arrested following that incident either.
“The team is made up of a bunch of young men,” Clark Hunt said at the Chiefs’ training camp before the season. “They’re not always going to make the best decisions, but we have a strong support system both with the coaching staff and with our player development department that works with young guys and talks to them about the situations that they want to be in. Kareem is a young man, second year in the league, obviously had a very big year on the field last year. I’m sure he learned some lessons this offseason and hopefully won’t be in those kinds of situations in the future.”
Asked at training camp about his offseason, Kareem Hunt didn’t elaborate much.
“Just be in the right place at the right time,” he said then. “I’m going to keep thinking about football and go out there and do my job.”
As a rookie last season, Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards. This year, Hunt has 824 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Star’s Lynn Worthy contributed to this report