Salisbury, NC — Over the years, the Free Thought Project has reported on numerous officers who have shown zero restraint when killing harmless animals who mean them no harm. In some extreme cases, these officers are so abusive that they have no problem hurting their own K9 partners. As the following case out of Salisbury, North Carolina illustrates, fellow cops allow the abuse to happen and even laugh about it and because the system doesn't hold them accountable, they are allowed to resign and simply move to another department.
Officer James Hampton was captured in an utterly heartbreaking video last month abusing his K-9 partner. Instead of charging the cop for the horrific animal abuse, Hampton was allowed to quietly resign to avoid any accountability or the possibility of tarnishing his career.
Hampton "had acted in a manner entirely inconsistent with his K-9 training and had violated Police Department policy," the department said. But before they got around to firing him, Hampton was allowed to resign.
"As a result, he was recommended for termination," the agency said in a statement. "The Police Department followed its disciplinary process, which requires that an employee subject to termination be afforded a due process hearing. Following that hearing, and prior to the Police Department formalizing any disciplinary action, Officer Hampton tendered his resignation, effective immediately. The Police Department did not incentivize or otherwise request Officer Hampton’s resignation, which he tendered as a matter of right."
"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 agency added.
At the time of the incident, the department claimed the well-being of their animals is at the top of their priorities. But if the well-being of their K-9s is a "top priority" Hampton should be fired, charged with animal cruelty and arrested immediately. Unfortunately, however, that has not happened and likely won't happen.
The only thing that has happened was that the K-9 was removed from the officer's custody and the officer resigned. This abuse is especially worrisome given the fact that veterinarian records for his K-9 "Zuul", released by the department confirm that just several months prior in October, the 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd "had an incident that involved his neck in October of 2020."
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AS TFTP reported at the time, the incident unfolded as the officer and the K-9 are conducting a training exercise when the K-9 jumps from the vehicle without being told to do so.
When the dog realizes his mistake, he immediately drops down into a submissive position. This seeming apology was not enough for the officer, however, who then wrapped a strap around the dog's neck and proceeded to strangle him while whipping him around in circles as if he was trying to kill the animal.
As he carries the dog to the car, by his neck, two feet off the ground, the officer then slams the dog into the side of the cruiser before throwing him back in the vehicle. He then hits the dog in the face for good measure.
Highlighting the nature of the blue code of silence, while the officer is abusing the dog, the cops filming it laugh at the abuse they see unfolding before them and say, "we're good. No witnesses," as another cop chuckles.
When the cop continues abusing his K-9, the officers begin asking each other if their "cameras are on," in a likely move to try and avoid official video of the incident.
While it is certainly bad enough that Hampton was allowed to resign without consequences, the fact that the other officers who covered it up and laughed about it faced no discipline whatsoever, highlights a major problem among policing in the US.