According to a story published Thursday morning in the Kansas City Star, the NFL was aware that Overland Park police had been called to the home of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill before it was public knowledge.
On March 15, news reports surfaced Hill was involved in an investigation over an alleged incident of battery against a juvenile. Hill has not been charged in the incident, which remains under investigation by Overland Park police, the Johnson District Attorney, and the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
In its new story, the Star says it has obtained a copy of a letter sent to the Overland Park Police Department on March 12. It was sent from Dirk Taitt, who identified himself as an NFL representative involved in security.
Citing the Kansas Open Records Act, the NFL asked the police department for reports related to “recent child abuse complaints involving the parents Crystal Espinal and Tyreek Hill as it relates to alleged injuries sustained by the couple’s minor child.”
The request goes on to ask 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 District Attorney’s office.
Press reports have indicated that Overland Park police were called to Hill’s home twice — once on March 5, and again on March 14. Taitt’s letter was sent a week after the first call, and two days before the second one. Neither police call was reported in the press before March 15.
In the letter, Taitt wrote the NFL was “reviewing this incident to evaluate whether a violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy occurred related to a complaint or arrest involving an NFL employee, in this case, Mr. Hill.”
According to the Star, the Overland Park police immediately responded to the letter, providing the NFL a copy of the March 5 report — the same one made public by the Star and other media outlets a few days later. But the Star also reports the March 5 report given to the NFL — just like the ones released to the media — did not include all the information now in the hands of the police.
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.
The Star said that the NFL declined to comment on Taitt’s letter to the police.
During his pre-draft press conference on Thursday — which began just minutes after the Star published its story — Chiefs general manager Brett Veach also declined to comment.
“Coach kind of said it on Monday,” said Veach, referring to a similar response from head coach Andy Reid during his press conference on Monday. “I don’t really have anything to say on that. It’s going to work itself out here, and we’ll deal with the information as it comes. There’s nothing I’d be in a position to say right now.”
It is unknown whether the NFL has made additional information requests to local authorities.
Late on Thursday afternoon, Fox4 reported that in recent days, Hill and Crystal Espinal have been going through a child in need of care case in family court.
FOX4 confirmed with court insiders that Hill was in family court on Wednesday and has been there several other times. It’s unclear when the next court date is.
There are a variety of reasons that such a case (called a CINC case) could be brought in family court — ranging from truancy to neglect to abuse.
This from the Johnson County District Attorney’s web site:
A CINC case is initiated by a report to law enforcement or the Kansas Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), followed by an investigation and a referral [by] the District Attorney’s Office. Truancy referrals are made by the schools or school district.
Since Hill and Espinal’s child is under school age, truancy is not the issue. That leaves neglect or abuse as possible reasons for a CINC case to be brought. Fox4 did not provide reporting on that part of the story.
So what happens in a CINC case? Back to the Johnson County District Attorney’s information.
[T]he court must determine if the child is “in need of care” (meaning, that the child is without proper care or supervision, or has been abused, or is truant, or other statutory reasons). If the court finds the child to be a CINC, the court has tremendous authority to make orders for the child and family. The court may order the child and parents to obtain counseling or treatment. The court may order the child placed in the custody of a relative or in state custody.
If the child is placed in DCF custody and ordered by the court live out of the home, the court may require the parents to complete tasks necessary to establish the child may be safely returned home. The parents will also be required to pay child support to DCF for the time the child is placed out of the home. If the parents fail to complete the tasks assigned by the court, the court may consider termination of parental rights or permanent placement with a family member. The goal in all CINC cases is to have the child remain in the home when it is safe to do so. Termination of parental rights is only considered after all attempts to reunite the family have failed.
Hill’s recent family court appearances could be related to (or a result of) the investigation by the Overland Park police in March. The purpose of these appearances could range from directing the couple in ways to improve their child’s living conditions to deciding whether Hill and Espinal should retain custody.
Since they involve minor children, these cases are not open to public scrutiny — hence Fox4’s reliance on “court insiders” to confirm that Hill and Espinal have appeared there. Barring a public statement from the couple themselves, it is unlikely we will learn much more about what has been happening.