Atlanta Falcons linebacker Prince Shembo has been charged with felony animal cruelty after allegedly kicking and killing his girlfriend's dog, Gwinnett County police said on Friday.
The Falcons later announced that they have waived Shembo.
Shembo, 23, was a rookie for the Falcons last season after Atlanta selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft out of Notre Dame. He appeared in 16 games, starting three, and recorded 59 tackles.
“We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo," the Falcons said in a statement. "We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this. Accordingly, we have decided to waive Prince Shembo.”
According to police, Shembo's former girlfriend, Denicia Williams, called the Gwinnett County Police Department on April 19 to report that Shembo killed her dog, a Yorkie named "Dior." Police said Williams and the dog went to Shembo's home in Buford, Ga., on April 15. At some point, Williams left Shembo and her dog unattended. When she returned, she found Dior unresponsive.
Police said Williams took the dog to Duluth Animal Hospital for treatment and it died shortly after their arrival.
One day later, on April 16, Shembo and Williams were talking on the phone when Shembo "made comments to her that he had kicked her dog," police said.
Police conducted multiple telephone interviews with Shembo before test results from a necropsy at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter and additional tissue sample testing at the University of Georgia showed the dog had significant internal injuries and that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma.
Police issued a warrant for Shembo on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
- Mike Fiammetta