A day after prosecutors declined to bring charges in connection with an investigation of abuse at the home of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, a local television station released an audio recording in which his fiancée accused him of hitting their 3-year-old son.
In the audio, Hill’s fiancée, Crystal Espinal, says their son repeatedly said, “Daddy did it.” “He is terrified of you,’’ she says.
Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too,’’ adding an obscenity.
When Hill says he didn’t do anything, Espinal says that “a 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”
Espinal also accuses Hill, 25, of punching their son in the chest, and says that if their son “gets in trouble, you get the belt out.” Hill responds by saying Espinal also uses a belt with their child, which she denies.
According to the station, KCTV, the 11-minute-long audio was recorded by Espinal at the Dubai International Airport and then given to a friend, before somebody gave it to the station. It was not possible to independently verify the audio; the station said it had turned it over to the prosecutor’s office and that it was reviewing it.
According to The Kansas City Star, the police were investigating two episodes that occurred at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan., last month, and during one of the episodes his son had sustained a broken arm.
Espinal tells Hill in the recording that she has helped him avoid punishment for the incident. “I rode for you against that detective and the C.P.S. people,” she said, referring to child protective services. The Kansas Department for Children and Families previously said it was investigating the incident.
The publication of the audio came shortly before the beginning of the N.F.L. draft, one of the league’s premiere showcases, in which the best college players are selected by teams.
An N.F.L. spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. On an ESPN broadcast from the draft before the audio was released, a host, Sam Ponder, asked N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell what the league should do about Hill.
Goodell responded that “you don’t rush to judgment and you don’t make a decision without having those facts.”
Still, the recording could force Goodell to consider whether to penalize Hill even if no charges have been filed.
At a news conference Wednesday, the Johnson County district attorney, Stephen Howe, said he believed that a crime had occurred that resulted in an injury to the boy, but that there was not enough evidence to support a charge against either Hill or Espinal.
For years, the league has followed the lead of law enforcement authorities in deciding whether to penalize a player in cases involving domestic abuse and other serious crimes. But since 2014, when the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was shown on video knocking out his fiancée in a hotel elevator, the league has strengthened its guidelines for investigating off-field incidents.
The commissioner has at times penalized players with fines and suspensions even in cases where the player was not arrested or convicted.
This month, the commissioner fined Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster the equivalent of two game checks after a domestic violence charge against him had been dropped.
Since being drafted in 2016 in the fifth round by the Chiefs, Hill has become one of the league’s most explosive playmakers. Last year, his third in the league, he had 87 receptions for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns.