Former Notre Dame LB Shembo waived after animal cruelty charge


Associated Press
ND Insider

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.— The Atlanta Falcons waived former Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo on Friday, shortly he was charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

Police in suburban Gwinnett County said Shembo was charged after his then-girlfriend's dog died from blunt force trauma last month.

The Falcons moved quickly to cut ties with the player.

"We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo," the team 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."

On Friday night, Shembo surrendered to authorities, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was released shortly after 10 p.m. after posting $15,000 bond, jail records showed.

The case was especially sensitive to a franchise that lost star quarterback Michael Vick after he was charged with running a dogfighting ring in 2007. Vick wound up serving federal prison time and never played again for the Falcons.

In 2010, while a student at Notre Dame, Shembo was accused of sexual battery against Lizzy Seeberg, a student at Saint Mary's College. Seeberg later committed suicide. Shembo was never charged with a crime, and later said he was innocent of the accusation.

Denicia Williams called police on April 19 to report that her ex-boyfriend had killed her dog, police said in a news release. Williams told investigators she had taken her Yorkie, Dior, to Shembo's apartment on April 15.

At some point, she left the 6-foot-2, 254-pound Shembo alone with the dog, and when she found the dog later it was unresponsive.

Williams took the animal to an animal hospital where it died shortly afterward. Shembo told her over the phone the next day that he had kicked the dog, and she ended their relationship, Williams told police.

Shembo kicked the small dog because it bit him, his attorney, Jerry Froelich, said Friday night, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Shembo was in tears over his arrest and release from the team, the attorney said.

“He didn’t mean to kill the dog,” Froelich told reporters outside the Gwinnett County jail.

Shembo, 23, was a fourth-round pick in 2014 out of Notre Dame. He graduated in May 2014.

He got significant time at inside linebacker as a rookie, playing in all 16 games with three starts and making 59 tackles.

New coach Dan Quinn planned to move Shembo to outside linebacker and give him a shot at a regular role in the pass rush rotation.

Now, the Falcons will have to come up with another option.

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 got the final results on 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 his account of what happened and because of the necropsy results, the release said.

The 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.

Police said an investigator contacted the Falcons to let them know about the warrant.

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo (55) rushes Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage (7) during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (SBT File Photo)