Prince Shembo charged in death of dog, then waived by Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have waived linebacker Prince Shembo after the player was charged Friday with killing his former girlfriend's dog.

Denicia Williams called police on April 19 to report that her ex-boyfriend had killed her dog, Gwinnett County Police in Georgia said in a news release Friday. Williams told police she had taken her Yorkie, named Dior, to Shembo's apartment on April 15. At some point, she left Shembo alone with the dog, and, when she found the dog later, the dog was unresponsive.

The investigation was completed Thursday, police said. Shembo was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to an animal. The dog died from blunt force trauma.

"We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo," the team said in a statement Friday. "We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this. Accordingly, we have decided to waive Prince Shembo."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn and the rest of the organization did not find out about Shembo's incident until they took the practice field Friday, according to a team source.

Shembo surrendered at the Gwinnett County jail Friday night and was released later that night after posting bond.

Attorney Jerry Froelich told reporters that Shembo said he was putting the dog in its cage and he kicked it after it bit his hand.

"When you're a small dog, it doesn't take much with the size he is," Froelich said, adding that the dog's death was accidental.

Froelich said he hadn't seen the police report as of Friday night.

The Falcons have had to confront this subject in the past. The team's former star quarterback, Michael Vick, served prison time in 2008 for his role in sponsoring a dogfighting operation.

The 6-foot-2, 254-pound Shembo allegedly told his girlfriend that he kicked the Yorkshire terrier. The woman later broke up with him.

A necropsy on the dog's body was done April 21, and tissue samples were sent to the University of Georgia for further testing. Police say the final results were available Thursday.

While waiting for those results, a police investigator spoke to Shembo several times by phone. Police decided to take out a warrant for Shembo's arrest because of inconsistencies in Shembo's account of what happened and because of the necropsy results, the release says.

The small dog suffered extensive injuries, including a fractured rib, abdominal hemorrhage, head trauma, eye injuries, and extensive bruising in the muscles of his front leg and shoulders.

Shembo, 23, was a fourth-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2014. He participated in the team's organized team activities that began Tuesday.

During the draft process, Shembo acknowledged being the Notre Dame player under investigation in the 2010 case of a St. Mary's College student who alleged she was inappropriately touched. Lizzy Seeberg, the student at Notre Dame's sister school, killed herself less than two weeks after the alleged incident. Shembo was never charged in the case.

"Pretty much it was an unfortunate event," Shembo said after the Falcons drafted him. "My name was pretty much cleared. It's behind me now. I just want to focus on playing football for the Falcons."

Shembo said he told the Falcons the truth about the incident.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.