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Ohio police deny special treatment for NFL's Kareem Hunt after drugs, alcohol found in car

The 24-year-old Cleveland Browns running back was found with marijuana and alcohol during a traffic stop, but was released with only a speeding citation.

Ohio police denied giving special treatment to Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt after he was found with drugs and alcohol in his car during a traffic stop.

Hunt, 24, was pulled over on Jan. 21 for speeding when an officer said he smelled marijuana in the vehicle, according to a police report from Rocky River Police.

The officer told the running back that he would let Hunt go as long as he didn't find anything in the car. Upon a search of the car, the officer found "small amounts" of marijuana and a bottle of vodka.

Hunt was still let go with only a speeding ticket.

Hunt was suspended from the NFL and then cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 after a video surfaced of a him kicking a woman after he had pushed her to the ground.

The Browns signed Hunt a few months later, despite pushback from advocates against gender-based violence.

"I've lost everything already, sir," Hunt said in dashcam footage of the stop, seemingly referring to his suspension and dismissal from the Chiefs. "Just give me a traffic ticket please, yes, sir."

The officer, Lt. George Lichman, denied giving Hunt any preferential treatment to NBC affiliate WKYC Wednesday.

“No, this is how we would do things for any other motorist that we stopped,” Lichman said.

Lichman told NBC News in a statement Thursday that the officer spoke "extensively" with Hunt and did not observe indications of impairment that would have led to a more severe action. The bottle of vodka in the car had been previously opened but was sealed and in a closed bag in the backseat, he said.

"Even if the officer cited Mr. Hunt for possession of marijuana and open container, both offenses are minor misdemeanors and not arrestable; the officer would have issued citations and released at the scene," Lichman said.

He also cited a new Ohio law passed last year that allows the possession of hemp products that contain up to 0.3 percent THC, the substance within marijuana that produces a psychoactive reaction. Testing of any substance to show the percent of THC in a substance would come at a high cost for the police department, Lichman said.

"As a result, several cities in Ohio, including ours, have suspended citing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana," Lichman said. "Our practice is to seize the suspected marijuana and enter it into evidence."

Hunt apologized for his off-the-field behavior after the video of him kicking the woman surfaced and then again after he signed with the Browns last year. "I am committed to following the necessary steps to learn and to be a better and healthier person from this situation," Hunt said then.

The league's suspension kept Hunt out of the first eight games this season, and he played in the remaining eight.

Neither the NFL nor the Cleveland Browns immediately responded Thursday to a request for comment.