Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 4, 2021. It was updated after the officer handed in his resignation.
Last month, a police officer was caught on video mishandling a K-9, resulting in an investigation. According to ABC News, as the Salisbury Police Department concluded their investigation of Officer James Hampton, the officer mishandling the dog, saying that he, “had acted in a manner entirely inconsistent with his K-9 training and had violated Police Department policy,” and that, “As a result, he was recommended for termination.”
According to Salisbury Police Department policy, employees subject to termination are afforded a due process hearing before any disciplinary action takes place, but officials said that Officer Hampton handed in his resignation, effective immediately. The video in question shows Officer Hampton lifting his K-9 named Zuul off the ground by his neck, swinging the poor dog around, and then slamming him into the side of the police car. Thankfully, it was reported that Zuul, “was not harmed and is healthy and being well-cared-for.”
Salisbury Police Department
Original Story Below
In Salisbury, North Carolina, an investigation has been launched on an officer who was caught on video poorly handling a K-9 police dog. The investigation stems from the horrifying video showing the officer taking the dog’s leash, clipping it onto its collar, and roughly swinging the dog’s entire body over his shoulder where the dog was hanging above the ground by its neck. He then slams the dog into the vehicle. You hear another officer in the video say, “We’re good… no witnesses.”
The officer was unnamed pending the investigation, but the disturbing video was enough to initiate more observation. As the video continues, you can hear other officers asking one another if their cameras are on, followed by requests that the cameras be turned off.
Video Shows North Carolina Officer Caught Swinging K-9 Over Shoulder By Leash
Roy Taylor has been a veteran police K-9 handler for more than 20 years and has also been a police chief in three North Carolina cities. He thoroughly criticized the officer’s physical handling of the German shepherd named Zuul, saying, “I think this was an example of something you should not do. By slinging the dog over his shoulder, carrying him back, he’s cutting off that blood supply and air for several seconds, and then by throwing him in the vehicle the way he did, he risked causing some cervical spine or cerebral spine injuries to the dog”
He also expressed concerns in how the officer’s actions would affect the investment in K-9 training, explaining, “Sometimes it can be up to $20,000 to $25,000 and the potential damage to the dog’s training. Now going forward, the dog’s going to have to reconsider whether he gets out of the car at all,” referring specifically to how the officer was escorting the dog to the police vehicle.
However, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes remained vague in a news conference about the investigation, purposely not commenting on whether the treatment was permitted or not. He did mention that it may have been part of the canine training tactics, saying, “when a canine is non-compliant with the handler’s commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog.”
He also explained that the officer is currently administratively separated from the K-9 unit while “SPD (Salisbury Police Department) conducts its review.”
Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes K-9 Policy
I can be the first to admit that I lose my patience more quickly than most, but I don’t think I can relate in feeling this frustrated with any living being to do this to them. Not to mention that this officer could’ve potentially backtracked this police dog’s training, probably scaring it into not responding the way it’s supposed to. Kyle Heyen, a former police officer who trained dogs for law enforcement agencies, said, “The actions of the handler were not appropriate. If you’re frustrated because that dog came out at that point in time and you respond with that much frustration, it just makes you wonder what that officer is going to do in a real-life situation.”