SportsPulse: NFL Insider Mike Jones ponders why it took a TMZ video for the Chiefs to make the right call and where the league and Kareem Hunt go from here.
Running back Kareem Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list Friday night, hours after TMZ’s publishing of a video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February.
“As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him,” the Chiefs said in a statement. “Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The evidence released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”
Said Hunt in a statement to ESPN and NFL Network: “I want to apologize for my actions. I deeply regret what I did. I hope to move on from this.”
Hunt won’t be allowed to practice or play for any team that might claim him as the NFL further investigates the incident from Feb. 10. Hunt was not arrested by Cleveland police and has not been charged by prosecutors, according to police and online court records reviewed by USA TODAY Sports.
The surveillance footage from the luxury hotel – which also has apartments – was released by TMZ Friday afternoon.
The NFL didn’t see the video until it was made public despite multiple attempts to secure the footage from the company that runs hotel and the Cleveland police, a person with knowledge of the efforts told USA TODAY Sports. The person request anonymity because of details of the investigation have not been made public.
The same person said the alleged victims in the case did not respond to the NFL’s attempt to gather more information about the incident.
The surveillance footage showed Hunt approach a woman and seemingly argue with her before he shoved her back with his right hand. As another man attempted to restrain Hunt, the woman approached and swatted Hunt in the face.
Listen to the 911 call reporting the violent altercation between Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and a woman at a Cleveland hotel in February.
After multiple people attempted to restrain Hunt as the confrontation continued, the video showed Hunt breaking free and charging at the woman. There appeared to be a lull before Hunt barreled through the hallway, knocking a man and the woman to the floor. The woman, who appeared to be disoriented, knelt close to the ground as Hunt walked over and kicked her with his right foot.
The woman who was attacked called 911 and told the operator “I was assaulted. I need help.” Police arrived at the The Metropolitan at the 9 in downtown Cleveland minutes later.
“Kareem, is his name,” the woman said in bodycam footage released by the Cleveland Police Department. “I just met him today. He shoved me. He pushed me. … Kareem, the person who assaulted me, had my phone. I had no way of calling (police).”
USA TODAY Sports does not name victims of violence.
A friend of the woman seen on video being assaulted by Hunt said she was grabbed by somebody in Hunt’s group when she tried to record the incident with her cell phone, according to the police report. She showed the officers her cracked screen.
Hunt’s friend, Rayshawn Watkins, told police that the accuser called both him and Hunt the “N-word” when the two were asked to leave the room once they found out both women were 19 years old, according to the police report. The two then pounded on the door of the apartment “about 20 times,” Watkins told police.
Nobody involved in the incident was arrested. Hunt does not currently face charges in either in county or municipal court, according to online court databases.
The “city did not release surveillance video” TMZ posted, Cleveland police spokesperson Jennifer Ciaccia told USA TODAY Sports in email. Ciaccia did not immediately respond when asked if police viewed the footage before Friday, although the police report does state “surveillance available upon request” among the evidence listed.
A third-round pick out of Toledo in 2017, Hunt quickly rose to fame as a rookie by becoming the Chiefs’ starter and finishing the year as the league’s leading rusher with 1,327 yards. His 1,202 yards from scrimmage this season ranked ninth among all players, and he was third in total touchdowns with 14.
Lorenzo Reyes contributed to this report.