North Carolina police officer resigns over K-9 mistreatment video

Published 1:10 pm Monday, April 5, 2021

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A North Carolina police officer captured on video swinging a police dog around on a leash and striking the animal during training has resigned from his post.

James Hampton, a Salisbury Police Department officer, stepped down after a weekslong investigation that determined he violated K-9 training practices and department policy during the October incident, according to the agency.

The department said in a statement Wednesday that Hampton resigned after his termination was recommended.

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“Officer Hampton had acted in a manner entirely inconsistent with his K-9 training,” officials said in the statement.

“The Salisbury Police Department will continue to review and make the necessary changes to our K-9 training operations, policies and procedures that align with industry best practices,” the statement continued.

Video of the training emerged online last month and appeared to show Hampton placing a leash on the police dog, named Zuul, and lifting the K-9 off the ground by the neck. Hampton could be seen swinging Zuul around his back and over his shoulder before roughly placing the dog into a patrol car and striking him with his hand.

While this was happening, an off-camera voice could be heard saying “we’re good, no witnesses,” news outlets reported.

The video drew outrage from community members and animal activists, including the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA organized protests in Salisbury demanding discipline against the officer and have also called for criminal charges, though authorities have said they do not intend to elevate the case.

Veterinary records from a check months later did not show signs of long-term injury to the 4-year-old German shepherd.