Chiefs, NFL, Cleve­land cops didn’t help Hunt, his vic­tim or them­selves

The Kansas City Star - - Opinion -

The more we learn about just the last year of Ka­reem Hunt’s life, the more clearly we see how will­fully the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL failed to in­ter­vene when they could and should have.

The Cleve­land Po­lice Depart­ment has now launched an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into how its of­fi­cers, too, seem to have mis­han­dled their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the star run­ning back’s ac­tions in the Cleve­land ho­tel where he kicked and shoved a 19-year-old woman last Fe­bru­ary.

Po­lice, by their own ad­mis­sion, did not even ask the ho­tel for sur­veil­lance footage. They did make an ar­rest on that call, though — of a ho­tel guest who was try­ing to help the woman who got kicked. He’d loaned her his phone to call 911 and had been tak­ing video of po­lice in the ho­tel lobby be­fore he was put in hand­cuffs and charged with dis­or­derly con­duct.

“Watch­ing the sur­veil­lance footage would be the eas­i­est thing in the world” for the Cleve­land po­lice to have done, former Cuya­hoga County pros­e­cu­tor Dan Mar­go­lis told USA To­day. “In the footage that I’ve seen, the po­lice were a lot more en­gaged with the (friends of Hunt’s) than they were in­ter­view­ing (the vic­tim). There’s a back­story here when it comes to women who are vic­tims of crime not be­ing taken se­ri­ously by Cleve­land po­lice.”

It’s telling that Hunt could stroll un­scathed through three re­ported in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence in a sin­gle year and still be co­cooned in de­nial. And in the end, did any of the breaks he was given help ei­ther Hunt or the Chiefs?

Even after Hunt was “em­bar­rassed” by the TMZ video of him kick­ing a woman, he noted in his tele­vised half-apol­ogy that every­one gets an­gry some­times. That level of self-de­cep­tion only shows how des­per­ately he and his vic­tims needed his team, his league and po­lice to step in more force­fully.

The NFL, as we know, never even in­ter­viewed Hunt about what hap­pened in Cleve­land. The Chiefs have said they ac­cepted his ac­count of what hap­pened at face value.

As ESPN put it, “When it comes to the NFL and vi­o­lence against women, the ques­tion clearly isn’t, ‘What did they know and when did they know it?’ It’s more like, ‘What did they want to know and when did they de­cide they had no choice but to know more?’’’

At the time of the Fe­bru­ary re­port, the Chiefs and the NFL al­ready knew that Hunt was one of sev­eral men who’d re­port­edly punched and kicked a 38year-old Glad­stone man at the Mo­saic night­club in Kansas City in Jan­uary. The vic­tim in that case, who was treated at North Kansas City Hospi­tal, suf­fered a bro­ken rib and bro­ken nose and said he was briefly knocked un­con­scious.

In a third in­ci­dent, in June, Hunt was ac­cused of punch­ing a man in the nose at a re­sort in Ohio. Yet if that TMZ video from Fe­bru­ary had not sur­faced, Hunt would still be on the team.

First, the NFL let it be known that its of­fi­cials had tried and tried to get more in­for­ma­tion about what hap­pened in Cleve­land but just hadn’t been able to. But that’s mis­lead­ing at a min­i­mum. Cleve­land po­lice did pro­vide their re­port to the league through back chan­nels.

The NFL only for­mally re­quested the sur­veil­lance video after the TMZ tape came out, 10 months later. That’s when they re­quested in­for­ma­tion from the po­lice depart­ment, too. And if they al­ready had the po­lice re­port, as they claim, why did they file for it again, if not to hide the fact that they’d known more than they pre­tended to? An NFL spokesman did not re­spond to that emailed ques­tion from The Star.

Al­most four years ago, Robert Mueller’s re­port on the NFL’s non-in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Bal­ti­more Ravens’ Ray Rice’s as­sault on his fi­ancée in At­lantic City found that “League in­ves­ti­ga­tors did not con­tact any of the po­lice of­fi­cers who in­ves­ti­gated the in­ci­dent, the At­lantic County Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice, or the Revel (casino) to at­tempt to ob­tain or view the in-el­e­va­tor video or to ob­tain other in­for­ma­tion. No one from the league asked Rice or his lawyer whether they would make avail­able for view­ing the in-el­e­va­tor video they re­ceived as part of crim­i­nal dis­cov­ery in early April. And, after the ini­tial con­tacts with the Ravens in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the in­ci­dent, league in­ves­ti­ga­tors did not fol­low up with the Ravens to de­ter­mine whether the team had ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion.” Sound fa­mil­iar?

Too much so. And this week is also the sixth an­niver­sary of the death of 22-yearold Kasan­dra Perkins, who was shot nine times by the Chiefs’ Jo­van Belcher be­fore he shot and killed him­self in front of his coach and gen­eral man­ager at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

The NFL has changed its poli­cies since the Rice scan­dal, but it doesn’t al­ways fol­low them.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s fans who would have to ex­pect more for any of this to change sub­stan­tially, rather than as a PR ex­er­cise. But last week, Wash­ing­ton signed line­backer Reuben Foster just two days after he was re­leased by the San Fran­cisco 49ers fol­low­ing an ar­rest on a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charge in Tampa. His ex has said she’s shocked that an­other team picked him up. But in the town where preg­nant-girl­friend puncher and throt­tler Tyreek Hill plays, we can’t claim to be.

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