Linebacker Prince Shembo put the Atlanta Falcons in a familiar position Friday when he was arrested for allegedly killing his former girlfriend’s dog.
In 2007, the organization dealt with a similar — though seemingly much larger — case of animal cruelty when quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to nearly 23 months in jail on charges stemming from animal cruelty.
Vick, then 27, pled guilty to funding and promoting a dog fighting ring on his property and to killing dogs that did not meet performance standards. Vick admitted that he and other organizers of the ring hanged and drowned the dogs they killed.
At the time, the Atlanta Falcons attempted to trade Vick and eventually released him as a result of the charges.
It’s safe to assume that the Falcons don’t want to deal with a similar animal cruelty controversy. On Friday, the Falcons acted swiftly in releasing Prince Shembo, 23, who allegedly beat his ex-girlfriend’s yorkie.
According to police reports, Denicia Williams took her yorkie, named Dior, to Prince Shembo’s house on April 15. On April 19, she called police to report that she’d found the dog unresponsive.
After an investigation, which was completed Thursday, police arrested Prince Shembo and charged him with felony aggravated cruelty to an animal. According to the police report, the dog had fractured ribs and a fractured liver, as well as hemorrhaging in the abdomen, front legs and shoulders, lungs, and left eye. In addition, the dog had bruising in the front legs and shoulders and head trauma.
Yorkies have an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years and usually weigh about seven pounds.
It didn’t take long after the news about Prince Shembo became available for the Falcon’s organization to take action.
In a press release, the Falcons said, “We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo. We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this. Accordingly, we have decided to waive Prince Shembo.”
The Atlanta Falcons shared the information via Twitter, as well.
The Falcons have waived linebacker Prince Shembo.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 29, 2015
According to his attorney, Shembo said that he kicked the dog after it bit him while he was trying to put it in a cage. The injuries to the dog were an accident, Shembo’s attorney said.
“When you’re a small dog, it doesn’t take much with the size he is,” Shembo’s attorney told ESPNW.
Shembo, who played at Notre Dame, was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The six-foot-two-inch, 254-pound linebacker played in all 16 games during the 2014-2015 NFL season. Shembo started three of those games.
On Friday, Prince Shembo turned himself in at the Gwinnett County Jail, where bond was set at $16,700, according to ESPNW.
[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]