CLEVELAND – New reports say the Kansas City Chiefs organization had knowledge of multiple incidents involving star running back Kareem Hunt, including the alleged assault that occurred in The 9 back in February. That night, the only person who was cited was a man who helped the victim of that assault call 911.
“They spent 30 minutes detaining me and citing me for just trying to help when they should have been investigating the hotel and the assault,” said Derek Szeto.
Szeto says he had just arrived at The 9, where he was a guest, via Uber. As soon as he got out of the car, a woman approached him and asked to use his phone to call police. She also told Szeto the hotel wouldn’t allow her to use the phone.
“It just seemed ridiculous that they wouldn’t let her use the phone to call the police,” said Szeto, recalling what happened that night. He went to the desk to see if what the victim told him was true.
“[The hotel desk employee] refused to talk to me, he refused to tell me his name. And I thought that was really weird because I’m a guest at the hotel.”
At that point, Szeto called police and began to record his interactions with hotel staff.
When police finally arrived, Szeto was still recording. Body camera footage released by Cleveland police show Szeto recording himself, and one of the hotel security guards. That’s when hotel security told him to stop
“If you’re recording you have to ask our permission,” hotel security said to Szeto that night. When Szeto asked for permission, he was denied and ended his recording.
As police continued their investigation, there’s a point where Szeto leaves the hotel as the security manager goes to talk to police.
The security manager has a special request for police saying, “this gentleman filmed inside of our property. Is there any way we can have him delete footage before you guys leave? Because he did not have permission.”
Amid the assault investigation they were called for, police almost immediately head outside to find Szeto. Police demand for him to give up his phone immediately.
“I did nothing wrong and I will not relinquish my phone unless you guys have a warrant,” Szeto is heard saying on body camera footage.
He is then detained after police say he “committed a crime” by recorded video inside of the hotel lobby. But the citation he later received had nothing to do with the video at all.
Police cited Szeto for disorderly conduct; intoxication – a charge Szeto says he shouldn’t have gotten.
The ticket cost him $182 and the misdemeanor will stay on his record. Szeto says he didn’t fight the charge because he didn’t have the wherewithal to fly back and forth to Cleveland for court hearings.
“I was just trying to help. I didn’t want to get mixed up with them. I didn’t want to take their time away from [the victim] and the real situation, real crime that was going on,” he said.
Szeto also said police were acting “weird” that night as they focused on talking to him instead of focusing on the assault investigation at the hotel security manager’s request.
“I was saying to Officer Szucs, this feels really weird man,” Szeto said referring to the moment he was detained. “I don’t know why I’m in the back of your police car in handcuffs. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Somehow, Szeto went from being good Samaritan to the back of a police cruiser. Despite his interaction with police, he says he’d do it all over again.
He thought, “maybe I shouldn’t have got involved. Maybe this wasn’t worth it. But no, I would absolutely help anybody that I saw that needed help.”
“This poor girl was crying, and she had cuts on her that I could see. She needed help and I’m glad that I was there to try and help her. “
While police spent nearly 30 minutes citing Szeto for recording video in the hotel’s lobby, they never took the time to review security footage of the assault on the 23rd floor. The video was later obtained and released by TMZ.
And when officers finally had a chance to talk to Hunt, whose identity was given to police by the victim, their body cameras were shut off.
“I would like to have seen what he said and what happened in that whole interaction,” said Szeto about officers’ interaction with Hunt. But that’s something he’ll never see.
Instead, he says there may be a day when he helps use police body camera footage to expunge his own record in court.
“Technically paying the ticket is an admission of guilt. And in no way did I feel guilty,” Szeto said.
Meanwhile, police have launched an internal investigation into the overall response of officers that night. While police won’t comment on what that investigation entails, it would likely include the interaction with Szeto, claims of preferential treatment, and the officers’ decision to cease recording after making contact with Hunt.
Szeto also filed a complaint with the hotel about employees refusing to call 911 on behalf of the victim. In a tweet, he expressed his displeasure with the hotel’s response.
“We left Cleveland that day and never heard anything from the hotel,” he said. “Never heard back.”
In a statement, a representative from the hotel released the following statement:
We condemn any violent or aggressive behavior and at all times act in support of our guests' well-being. People are the cornerstone of our business and our care and compassion extends to anyone in their time of need. The actions of our team members throughout this and any evening emulated and exceeded our standards of putting safety and security first. Any allegation suggesting otherwise is either false or a skewed recapitalization of what transpired.
We have and will always continue to offer a safe environment for all our guests and residents alike.