N.F.L. Declines to Suspend Tyreek Hill After Domestic Violence Investigation
The N.F.L. has chosen not to suspend Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill after a woman identified as his fiancée accused him of hitting their 3-year-old son earlier this year.
The league said that it did not have access to information gathered in court proceedings, and all law enforcement records have been sealed. Hill was never charged in the case because prosecutors in Johnson County, outside Kansas City, said they did not have enough evidence.
“Similarly, based on the evidence presently available, the N.F.L. cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy,” the league said in a statement released on Friday.
Hill will be allowed to attend the Chiefs’ training camp, which begins next week, and participate in all club activities. He is required to submit to what the league called “clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention.” The statement leaves the door open for consideration of future penalty for Hill if more information becomes available from law enforcement.
In April, Hill had agreed to stay away from the Chiefs while the N.F.L. investigated the matter, which occurred in January. The team’s general manager, Brett Veach, said he was disturbed by an audio recording that included Hill apparently threatening his fiancée, Crystal Espinal. In the recording, Espinal says that their son repeatedly said, “Daddy did it.” Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too.”
Still, the police were unable to conclusively determine what happened in the case and did not charge Hill or his fiancée. The incident reportedly remains under investigation by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
The decision not to suspend Hill was the latest test of the N.F.L.’s enhanced policy against domestic violence. Since 2014, when the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught on video punching his then-fiancée, the league has relied on its own investigative department and rendered its own judgments and penalties instead of solely following the lead of law enforcement agencies and waiting for the criminal justice system to determine guilt or innocence first.
This has often led to lengthy investigations of varying quality and a variety of penalties that have vexed players and owners alike. In Hill’s case, Lisa Friel, who leads the league’s investigative unit focused on domestic violence, met with Hill for more than eight hours last month. She submitted a report to Commissioner Roger Goodell and consulted with B. Todd Jones, the league’s chief disciplinary officer.
In other cases, the league has suspended players for events that were said to have occurred before they joined the N.F.L. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, for instance, was given a six-game suspension after accusations of domestic violence were made by a former girlfriend in July 2016, before Elliott’s rookie season.
This year, Goodell fined Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster the equivalent of two game checks after a domestic violence charge against him had been dropped.
Hill was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2014 while he was at Oklahoma State, and he pleaded guilty to assaulting and choking Espinal, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time. He received three years’ probation.
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