A police officer in North Carolina seen on video lifting a K-9 by his leash and slamming him into a patrol car has resigned.
Salisbury Police Officer James Hampton tendered his resignation after the department recommended him for termination following an external investigation, police said in a news release Wednesday. Hampton was allowed to resign following a due process hearing, according to department policy.
The dog — K-9 Officer Zuul — has since been given a clean bill of health by a veterinarian, police said in a March 5 post on Facebook.
“Officer James Hampton was K-9 Zuul’s handler, and was the officer depicted in the video engaging in inappropriate discipline of Zuul,” Salisbury police said in the release. “The police department’s review determined that Officer Hampton had acted in a manner entirely inconsistent with his K-9 training and had violated police department policy.”
Salisbury is about 45 minutes northeast of Charlotte on I-85. Its police department employs 81 people, including 72 sworn officers.
The department first came under fire in early March, when Fox 46 published a nearly one-minute video that appeared to show an officer lift a police dog in training by his leash, slam him into the side of a patrol car and hit him.
The video was not dated, and police did not identify when or where the incident took place.
In the video, the officer now identified as Hampton is seen exiting a police SUV with a back door open. As he walked away, the dog leaped from the open door and tried to follow. Hampton can then be heard yelling, and the dog appeared to immediately lie down.
Hampton walked toward the dog — later identified as Zuul — and put his leash on. The video then shows him lifting Zuul up by the leash and swinging him around his back as he returned to the SUV.
“We’re good, no witnesses,” someone in the video can be heard saying.
Zuul was then slammed into the side of the vehicle with a thud before being shoved back inside, the video shows. Hampton appeared to yell “stay” before lifting a hand and hitting the K-9.
During a news conference March 2, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told reporters Zuul was separated from his handler while the incident was investigated by an outside agency. He also said “canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context” given what police dogs are trained to do.
Police identified the outside agency on Wednesday as U.S. ISS, a Huntersville-based security and investigations firm.
The Salisbury Police Department recommended Hampton be terminated after U.S. ISS concluded his actions in the video were “inappropriate.” Police said he did not receive any incentives to resign, nor did they request his resignation.
“While we understand the calls for the officer’s immediate termination, city employees are afforded due process which ensures fairness for everyone involved and which can take time,” the department said Wednesday.