The North Carolina cop seen on video hanging and choking a K-9 with its leash is off the force ... he just resigned after an investigation determined he should be fired.
The Salisbury Police Department says an independent investigation found officer James Hampton engaged in "inappropriate discipline" of the police dog, Zuul ... in full violation of department policies.
SPD says while Hampton was recommended to be fired, he was allowed a due process hearing ... and before he could be canned, he tendered his resignation, effective immediately.
As we reported ... Hampton came under fire earlier this month when video surfaced showing him manhandling the crap out of the police dog he was supposed to be training.
PETA got involved too ... with demonstrators protesting outside Salisbury PD HQ and demanding justice for the K-9. BTW, Zuul was ok, at least physically, after the brutal encounter.
Salisbury PD also says it will continue reviewing its K-9 training operations, policies and procedures with potential changes on the horizon.