A former Atlanta Falcons player kicked his ex-girlfriend’s small dog because it bit him, his attorney said Friday night. Prince Shembo was in tears over his arrest and release from the team, attorney Jerry Froelich said.
“He didn’t mean to kill the dog,” Froelich told reporters outside the Gwinnett County jail.
But the Yorkie’s injuries were extensive, according to police. Friday afternoon, Shembo, 23, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, Cpl. Michele Pihera said. Within two hours, Shembo was released from the team, and Friday night, he surrendered to authorities. He was released shortly after 10 p.m. after posting $15,000 bond, jail records showed.
Froelich said Shembo owns a dog and has never hurt it, and that he “was in tears” about the charge and release from the team.
The Falcons responded to the allegations swiftly, releasing an emailed statement late Friday afternoon.
“We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo,” the team said. “We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this. Accordingly, we have decided to waive Prince Shembo.”
Denicia Williams called police April 19 to report that her former boyfriend had killed her Yorkie, named Dior. Williams told police she had taken Dior to Shembo’s home at a Mall of Georgia apartment complex four days earlier, according to police.
At some point during her stay, Williams left Shembo and her dog unattended. When she returned, Dior was unresponsive, she told police.
Williams took the dog to Duluth Animal Hospital, where Dior died shortly after her arrival.
The following day, Shembo allegedly made comments to Williams about killing the dog, and she broke up with him, she told police.
A necropsy was conducted at Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, and tissue samples were sent to the University of Georgia for further testing, according to police. Dior had significant internal injuries and the cause of death was blunt force trauma, veterinarians determined.
The dog had a fractured rib, fractured liver, abdominal hemorrhage, thoracic hemorrhage, extensive bruising and hemorrhage in the muscles in her front leg and shoulders, head trauma, hemorrhage and edema in lungs, hemorrhage between the esophagus and trachea, and hemorrhage in the left eye with internal injuries, police said. Investigators believe Shembo kicked the dog, his arrest warrant states.
Shembo, a linebacker who played at Notre Dame, was a fourth-round pick for the Falcons in 2014. He had 59 tackles in 16 games last season.
Although he was never charged, Shembo was investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a Saint Mary’s College freshman in his dorm room in 2010. The 19-year-old woman killed herself 10 days later by taking an overdose of the antidepressant Effexor.
“Pretty much it was an unfortunate event,” Shembo told reporters after being drafted. “My name was pretty much cleared. It’s behind me now. I just want to focus on playing football for the Atlanta Falcons.”