NFL investigators met with Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill for eight hours Wednesday in Kansas City.
The interview, which lasted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central time, was conducted by NFL Special Counsel for Investigations Lisa Friel, sources told The Star. Jennifer Gaffney, who works with Friel, was also reportedly present, along with Hill’s legal representation.
The meeting is part of the league’s investigation following a child abuse probe by Johnson County and Kansas officials involving Hill and his fiancee, Crystal Espinal. Hill is facing a potential suspension under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, but a league source told The Star there’s optimism that Hill, who’s been suspended from team activities since April 25, will be with the team for training camp.
The Chiefs’ veterans are scheduled to report to St. Joseph for camp on July 26. Their rookies report July 23.
As of Wednesday, the NFL hadn’t reached out to the Johnson County District Attorney to meet with him or his staff this week. A source with knowledge of the situation told The Star the league has no further interviews planned with Hill at this time. It isn’t known who else, if anyone, investigators planned to speak with in Kansas City.
In an email, District Attorney Steve Howe said the last time his office heard from the NFL was in April after he announced that he wasn’t filing charges in the case. The NFL reached out to his office, Howe said.
“This phone contact centered on their request of our investigative records,” Howe told The Star Wednesday. “They were told that we would object to their open records request. We have had no contact with them since then.”
In March, the NFL reached out to Overland Park Police, seeking records about complaints of child abuse involving Hill and his son, according to a letter sent by a league representative to the police department. The letter, dated March 12, came three days before The Star reported that Hill was under investigation for an alleged battery.
The request asked for “all reports” relevant to the case, including calls for service, photos, witness statements, police report narratives, medical records, video tapes, recordings of 911 calls and “any reports related to review findings” by the Johnson County DA’s office.
As noted by the police department in its response, only a portion of the report was released. Other portions, including details of what occurred and any information about a suspect, were not released. Police said that, because the report concerned a child in need of care, the full report would not be released without a court order.
Howe told The Star earlier this month that the criminal child abuse probe “is not an active investigation.” But he also told The Star that comments he made during an April 24 news conference “still hold true.” At that time, Howe said he believed Hill and Espinal’s 3-year-old son had been hurt but couldn’t prove who did it.
Though the criminal investigation is no longer active, Hill and Espinal do have an ongoing case with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). Generally speaking, such cases can take weeks, months or even years for families to receive the services they need.
In a May news conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league was waiting for permission to interview Hill for its own investigation. That directive stemmed from the DCF child welfare case, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said at the time.
“There is a court proceeding still going on involving CPS, Child Protection Services, and we will not interfere with that,” Goodell said then. “The priority is this young child and so we will obviously be cooperative with whatever the court wants there. We are prepared to go ahead and have an interview whenever we have the permission to.”
News surfaced in mid-March that Overland Park police took two reports at Hill’s Johnson County home, one for battery and the other for child abuse and neglect. The police reports, dated March 5 and March 14, involved a juvenile.
The Star reported on March 15 that a source familiar with the situation said an incident at Hill’s home left the boy with a broken arm.
The Star reported on April 18 that sources said the child was removed from the custody of Hill and the boy’s mother. It isn’t clear if that status has changed. An Instagram video posted earlier this month to an account in the boy’s name showed the child playing on a park playground. Hill can be heard talking to the child while he traverses a rope bridge.
The day after Howe said he wouldn’t be filing charges, a Kansas City television station aired the taped recording of a graphic conversation between Hill and Espinal — who was pregnant with twins at the time.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said then that Hill would not participate in team activities for the foreseeable future. At the time, owner Clark Hunt said he was “deeply disturbed” by the audio recording.
In a four-page letter sent to the NFL on May 2, an attorney for Hill denied the child abuse claims that were alluded to in the audio recording, which was allegedly made by Hill’s fiancee in a Dubai airport.
The letter disputes nearly every claim made in the snippets of the 11-minute recording aired by the Kansas City television station.