A comprehensive report on the altercation between former Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt and a woman shows that Hunt's interview with police was not recorded on the officer's body cameras.
A new report by ESPN brings up questions about how law enforcement handled the altercation between former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and 19-year-old Kent State student Abigail Ottinger that occurred on the morning of Feb. 10, 2018 at Hunt's residence in Cleveland, Ohio.
According to ESPN's findings, there is no body camera footage of police questioning Hunt from the night of the incident.
ESPN's Outside the Lines interviewed witnesses of the assault and current and former league officials, reviewed police documents and examined several hours of officer body camera video in an analysis of the differing accounts, among other sources of information.
Last week TMZ Sports obtained video footage of Hunt attacking Ottinger. No charges were pressed or suspensions delivered after the initial investigations by either body, but the NFL has placed Hunt on the Commissioner's Exempt list and is re-evaluating the incident. The Cleveland Division of Police announced it is opening an internal investigation into their own response to the incident.
The report reveals that on the night of the assault, officers did not record Hunt's interview on their body cameras—per Hunt's request. After waiting several hours to question Hunt and "deferring to the hotel's insistence that officers couldn't knock on his door without a warrant or permission from the hotel's owner," the officers asked the running back if he wanted them to turn off their body cameras. Any answers that Hunt gave to the police's questions about a physical confrontation are not captured in their report and the video cuts off after his request that they turn off the cameras. The police made the same offer to at least one other witness, according to ESPN.
Among the individuals interviewed on tape are Rayshawn Watkins (Hunt's teammate from Toledo), a separate teammate from Toledo, Darryl Richards (who asked officers to look at the hotel security footage) and Nicole McManamon (Hunt's friend).
Interviews with Ottinger (the victim), Dominique Hamilton (her friend) and Derek Szeto, a hotel guest who offered Ottinger his phone to call 911 after the front desk would not let her use the hotel's, were also taped.
Szeto was the only individual arrested that night after also attempting to record the interactions on his phone. The 29-year-old traveler from Boston says he was wary of the situation and began recording on his phone while interacting with the hotel's loss prevention officer, Tyler Krajcik, about Ottinger's situation. When the police arrived, Szeto told them that he was taping the interaction on his phone. Per ESPN, the officers indicated they were fine with it.
Krajcik is later seen in footage requesting that Szeto's phone be confiscated and any images deleted.
"An officer immediately confronts Szeto on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and demands the phone, saying he had 'illegally recorded somebody,'" ESPN reports.
After Szeto refused, the officer told him they did not need a warrant to take his phone since he had "just committed a crime." He was cited with disorderly conduct intoxication, although he claims, per ESPN, that he was not drunk. His charge came
Following the police's questioning the day of the incident, Hunt says the league did not interview him but notes that the Chiefs, who released Hunt last Friday hours after the TMZ video of the altercation surfaced, did. A league source told ESPN that the NFL told the team "not to investigate because the league would handle it." The source said it was protocol for the NFL to take over such investigations and that its case on Hunt remained open after it's initial findings in February.
Hunt was not suspended or reprimanded by the NFL until this fall, when the footage surfaced.
The report also brings up questions about who had access to the hotel surveillance video before it was leaked. ESPN notes that the NFL requested to see it but was turned down by the hotel, who would only release the footage to law enforcement. Cleveland police did not ask to see surveillance video on the morning in question when interviewing the involved parties at the hotel, even though witnesses on both sides asked them to do so.
The NFL released a statement on Sunday saying that they did not have the video footage prior to Friday.
"The NFL's investigation began immediately following the incident in February," the statement said. "Consistent with standard investigatory practices, the NFL continues to pursue a complete understanding of the facts. The NFL's ongoing investigation will include further attempts to speak to the complainants involved in the incident.
"It will include a review of the new information that was made public on Friday—which was not available to the NFL previously—as well as further conversations with all parties involved in the incident."
The police told ESPN that the NFL received a copy of the incident report in February, but the league did not make an official public records request for the document until Nov. 30 after TMZ released the video.