By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Atlanta Falcons released Prince Shembo on Friday after the football player was charged with aggravated animal cruelty in the killing of his girlfriend's dog, the team said.

The Yorkie died after Shembo, 23, an outside linebacker drafted by the Falcons in 2014, told the girlfriend he kicked her dog while alone with the pet at his suburban Atlanta apartment on April 15, according to Gwinnett County Police.

"We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this," the Falcons said in a statement on Friday after learning of the charges against Shembo. It said the National Football League team had decided to waive Shembo.

The girlfriend found the dog unresponsive at Shembo's apartment and rushed the pet to an animal hospital where it died, police said.

Tests showed the dog had died of significant internal injuries caused by blunt force, police said, and Shembo was charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

After Shembo told the girlfriend he had kicked the dog, she "ended their relationship," police said.

The 6-foot-2, 254-pound Shembo played college football at the University of Notre Dame, and was chosen by the Falcons in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, according to the team's website.

(Editing by David Adams and Mohammad Zargham)