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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police say the officer who unleashed his K-9 on a man in November will return to work, but in a different job.

Ofc. Stafford Brister is clear to come back to work, but he will be working as a patrol officer.

Chief Ralph Evangelous says the incident has also prompted the department to take a closer look at its K-9 unit.

After a more than month-long internal investigation, Ofc. Brister will return to work within the next couple of days, Evangelous said. WPD put Brister on administrative leave as it investigated the use of his K-9 Kaas on a suspect who led police on a chase Halloween night.

Moving forward WPD plans to bring in an expert from the United States Police Canine Association to make sure the unit is working up to standards.

“We think bringing in someone from outside the region that knows no one will be able to give us an honest objective look,” Evangelous said. “I think that’s important for the community to know that we are using best practices, and if we’re not, we’ll fix it.”

Evangelous said the review will provide recommendations that will be shared with the public. The chief says once he selects someone to come in and evaluate the program, it will take about 45 days to complete and cost a few thousand dollars.

WPD’s K-9 unit is made up of five dogs, including the one involved in this incident. Evangelous says the evaluation will determine if that is the right number for the department to have. At that time, Evangelous says a decision will be made about whether to return Kaas to duty. In the meantime the dog is with another handler. Evangelous said he has been told Kaas is doing well.

The SBI investigated the Brister’s use of his dog on suspect Johnnie Williams Nov. 1. The case was taken before a grand jury, which declined to indict Brister.

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31 Comments on "WPD K-9 officer will return in different job; K-9 unit to be reviewed"

2015 years 9 months ago

Officer Brister is a highly respected Officer at the Police Department. In his 22 years of service, he has done his duty without few complaints. I am not going to judge him for making a split second decision based upon under “good faith” what he knew at the time. I wasn’t there. For those that were not there, it’s best to keep you comments to yourself. And yes, I am talking about Ms. Maxwell. It makes me sick that the media will give her more time on this story than the Officers that were out there putting their lives on the line of duty. Had the guy ran over two or three Officers, it would have been on the back page of the newspaper. I ask everyone to go to the Officer Down Memorial Page Site and see how many Officers have been killed or run over during a high speed or low speed chase. The man was a criminal. Been in jail before, and was probably taught when the crap starts to hit the fan, to raise your arms in the air. “I would rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6!”

2015 years 9 months ago

Ralph gets it wrong again. Moves the officer and no supervisor accountability ..

2015 years 9 months ago

Chief Evangelous is a great chief. And I know he’s going to do what he thinks is right. But in this case, I have to disagree.

After being forcibly stopped, it appears Mr. Williams, locked the car door, to hinder his arrest. This is the same guy, who, just a few minutes ago, pretended to pull over. Then hit the gas, nearly striking two officers. (If he was so anxious to “give up”, why would he lock his door first.)

Former Wilmington police officer, Monica Carey, was struck and killed, 12 years ago, by a drug dealer, who pretended to surrender, then hit the gas, striking and killing her.

As a result of K-9 Brister using the dog, the suspect was safely detained, and prevented, from any further driving. The only injuries, were minor scratches, I believe. Stafford immediately grabbed the dog, the instant Mr. Williams was fully separated from the wheel.

Mr. Williams is a nut. It’s unlikely, he even knows what his next move is going to be. He certainly has no concern for anyone’s safety. As he clearly proved.

The Chief was absolutely right in calling for the SBI to do a independent investigation, to which, they found no fault. And officers have to be suspended while a shooting, or serious complaint, is being handled.

K-9 Brister has been a K-9 for almost 13 years. We have spent many thousands on his training. If it is determined the officer has been in a slot too long. The transfer should be when his dog retires. Then he should be considered for transfer. This dog is still a rookie, with 6 years to go. He and K-9 Brister won a contest, as the #1 K-9 team in NC.

Chief Evangelous has always done what he thinks is right. And many times he has taken bold stands behind his officers. Officer Brister did nothing wrong, here. This situation has been handled perfectly, to this point. Nobody’s perfect. Hopefully the transfer will be reconsidered. K-9 Brister should be with that dog, until the dog retires. They are the #1 team in NC. And the WPD has an excellent K-9 squad.

K-9 Brister should not be blamed, nor should the Chief. The person who holds 100% of the blame, is the driver, Mr. Jonnie Williams.

Lisa's Two Cents
2015 years 9 months ago

If Mr. Williams would have decided to hit the gas, and even if he didn’t kill an officer getting away, would he have driven safely ? No, he would be blasting through every red light, again. Maybe killing someone this time. Maybe my mother, or my son. It’s only a miracle he didn’t kill someone, the first few time.

Isn’t it a policeman’s job to keep people, like Johnnie Williams, from killing us ?

So the poor little thug, got a few scratches, from a dog. Boo Hoo.

2015 years 9 months ago

Ralph you got it wrong again. You get paid all that money and you’re still scared to do what needs to be done.


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