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'Our community watched in horror' | NC Mayor Pro Tem seeks answers about K-9 Zuul

The internal investigation is reviewing actions taken by one of their officers against the animal, according to Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes.
Credit: Salisbury Police Department

SALISBURY, N.C. — Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem, Al Heggins, has submitted questions to the City Manager regarding a training incident involving a Salisbury Police officer and a canine.

The internal investigation is reviewing actions taken by one of their officers against the animal, according to Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes. He did not comment on what the investigation entails but confirmed the incident was captured on video.

Stokes cited the incident as an "on-going personnel matter," but did confirm the officer in question has been separated from the K9 while they conduct their review.

The K9 unit, named Zuul, was not harmed, according to Stokes.

The name of the officer was not publicly released.

RELATED: Salisbury Police investigating training incident involving canine

Stokes said an outside agency has been charged with leading the inquiry. Stokes confirmed that the agency is interviewing and reviewing the matter.

Heggins said the community deserves transparency from the police department and has released the following statement regarding the incident: 

"Our community and the nation watched in horror at the violence against this K9 Officer in service to our residents and also heard officers engaging in very disturbing conversation that further erodes public confidence and trust. The City must provide ALL the information allowable under the law and not give even the slightest semblance of non-transparency."

"I submitted key questions to the City Manager, which I believe are central to public trust and confidence. Those questions have been answered. Because the submitted questions and answers were returned to the council in a confidential memo, I am not at liberty to release the questions or answers. As such, I have asked the City Attorney and the City Manager to release those answers in the proper format for public consumption as provided by NCGS 160A-168... Our community deserves clear and honest answers."

Last Friday, the Salisbury Police Department posted an update on Zuul saying he remains "happy and healthy." 

"We appreciate your concern for K-9 Officer Zuul," the department said in an online message. "He was removed from the handler's care when we were made aware of this incident. Zuul was taken to a veterinarian on Thursday, March 4th for a checkup and received a clean bill of health. He is in good hands, happy and healthy, and taking some time off."

RELATED: Zuul, the K-9 involved in an alleged Salisbury police incident, remains on rest