Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons’ Prince Shembo faces animal cruelty charge

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Prince Shembo (53) prepares for a play during an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Police have charged Shembo with aggravated animal cruelty after his girlfriend’s dog died from blunt force trauma.
Atlanta Falcons linebacker Prince Shembo (53) prepares for a play during an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. Police have charged Shembo with aggravated animal cruelty after his girlfriend’s dog died from blunt force trauma. AP

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – An Atlanta Falcons player is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s dog, Gwinnett County (Ga.) police said Friday afternoon. Within two hours, Prince Shembo, a former All-Observer player at Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High, was released from the team.

Shembo, 23, has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, Cpl. Michele Pihera said. The Falcons responded to the allegations swiftly, released an emailed statement.

“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.

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, Lizzy Seeberg, 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.”

Shembo was not in custody Friday afternoon.

Prince played for Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School and was named to the 2007 and 2008 All-Observer teams. Shembo had football scholarship offers from North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and West Virginia but settled on Notre Dame because of the academics, he said in a 2009 Observer article.

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