Tyreek Hill’s 3-year-old son told his mother the Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver punched him, according to a recording obtained and aired Thursday evening by the local television station KCTV-5.
“Daddy did it,” the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, could be heard saying, paraphrasing the boy. “He is terrified of you.”
Hill responded, according to the recording: “You need to be terrified of me, too, b----.”
The television station said the more than 11-minute long recording was made while the couple walked through Dubai International Airport. The Star could not independently confirm Thursday it was Hill and Espinal on the recording.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach announced Thursday night that Hill had been suspended from team activities and that the Chiefs would gather more information.
“Earlier this evening we were made aware of the audio between Tyreek and Crystal,” Veach said shortly after the first round of the NFL Draft concluded. “We were made aware of this information in real time, just like the general public.
“We were deeply disturbed by what we heard and were deeply concerned. Obviously we have great concern for Crystal. We are greatly concerned for Tyreek, but our main focus and main concern is with the young child.
“We will make the right decision regarding Tyreek Hill.”
Veach did not take questions after issuing his statement on Hill.
According to the television station, the recording captured Hill and Espinal discussing what they told investigators and arguing about who “ratted” them out. In it, the couple accused each other of using a belt on their son. Espinal appeared to say she told investigators her son gets “whooped.”
“I didn’t do nothing,” Hill responded.
In the recording, the two talked about an injury to the boy’s arm. 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.
“Why does (he) say ‘Daddy did it?” Espinal asked. “A 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”
The television station said it gave all parties involved time to respond before airing the audio during its 6 p.m. broadcast.
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.
Steve Howe, the Johnson County district attorney, held a news conference Wednesday and announced the criminal investigation involving Hill and Espinal — who is pregnant with twins — was closed and he would not file charges.
Howe said the child had been hurt and he thinks a crime occurred, but he could not prove who committed the crime. He declined to comment on what crime his office thought occurred.
“We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question,” Howe said.
The television station said Thursday Howe now had the recording. When reached by The Star, Howe declined to comment.
Hill’s attorney also declined to comment on KCTV-5’s report.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families has an ongoing child protection case focused on the child. In the recording aired Thursday, Espinal appeared to say she defended Hill to investigators.
“I rode for you against that detective and the CPS people,” she said.
Later in the recording, Hill indicates Espinal isn’t supporting him now and wasn’t supporting him in 2014, potentially in reference to when Hill assaulted her.
Hill, 25, has a history of domestic violence. Following a 2014 arrest, he pleaded guilty to strangling Espinal in 2015.
“You ain’t riding for me in 2014, you damn sure ain’t riding for me now, bro,” Hill said.
Espinal recalled a time their son was crying. Hill responded by telling the child to “shut up,” she said, according to the audio.
“He kept saying, ‘Daddy punches me,’ which you do when he starts crying,” Espinal appeared to say in the recording. “What do you do? You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest.”
Throughout the recording, the couple also seemed to argue over each other’s parenting style, as reported by KCTV-5. Hill seemed to criticize Espinal as a mother, saying he wants his son “to learn respect.”
“Things could have been handled a lot differently with him than the way they have been now. And these twins,” Espinal responded.
The Star reported last week that Hill’s son recently was removed from the custody of Hill and Espinal. It was not clear when the boy was removed, or who he is staying with now.
Before the recording aired, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN sportscaster Sam Ponder that the league would not rush to judgment.
“When you get the facts, then you make a decision about how it fits into our personal conduct policy,” Goodell said. “You don’t make a decision without having those facts.”
Hill released a statement Thursday, thanking the Chiefs and his attorneys for supporting him. Hill said he remained focused on being the best person he can be for his family and the best player he could be to help his team win.
“I love and support my family above everything,” he said in the statement released by his attorneys. “My son’s health and happiness is my number one priority.”
Star reporter Kaitlyn Schwers contributed to this report.