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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.

Comment on this Story

  • K9 Officers

    I am glad you brought up the training issue, because here is where I have the only disagreement with Officer Brister. As a trained K9 officer, my training would prevent me from doing what he did, it is was not safe for the officer or his K9. You are taught to allow an individual to surrender before using the force of your K9. He did have chance to surrender during the chase but these are separate situations, one is the chase and the other is the conclusion of the case and apprehension of the suspect. Then as a trained police officer the officer safety aspect of running up to that vehicle without cover or caution could lead to injury to that officer, his K9, or other officers who might be put in harm’s way if Brister would have become injured. After chases like this our adrenalin is very high and we are just running on emotions, but for all officers safety we must slow down and approach these things cautiously. For the text book on high speed pursuits, watch some videos of LAPD or Calif Hwy Patrol tactics, of most Hwy Patrol agencies. After the pursuit has terminated they take up defensive positions and allow subject to surrender. It does not matter what he has done, they want to be safe and allow the suspect to surrender, and it is safer than forcibly removing them from the vehicle. Then if that does not happen in a reasonable time they move to different tactics. Better training leads to better apprehensions, better safety for the officers, and better cases in court, and less cost to the tax papers from law suits and less criminals getting paid from our efforts.
    The suspect in this case is wrong, they needs to buried him under the jail, but as a good officer we must remain within our training and standard operating procedures, or suspects like this will get paid. And trust me when I said this…….THIS SUSPECT IS GETTING PAID!!!!

  • Lisa’s Two Cents

    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.

  • Tired

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

  • Beach Bum

    You bring up interesting points…

    But I have a few of my own…

    K9 handlers go through extensive training with their partners. More than the average police officer. Do you really think they give an officer a dog and say here you go?

    Secondly, you talk about diversity training…well, that is a two way street. You want respect, you have to give respect.

    Are the criminals going to be held to the same standard or are they entitled because of race or economic disparity?

    After all, when someone breaks the law, then the police are usually called to handle the problem someone else won’t or won’t go to court on.

    For me, that is more than enough reason for all peace officers to be “entitled” or enforce the law in any manner they see fit.

  • PublicAvenger

    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.

  • jason

    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!”

  • Tired

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

  • LolaJames

    WWAY asked Dr. William Barber about this issue but, the law is the law whether for the average citizen or for those enforcing the law. We are held under same laws in N.C.; the nation and under the constitution. With so many lawsuits and incidents by WPD it is hard to keep track. It is also best to wait for all evidence presented before reaching any conclusions which so often the media does including Nancy Grace.
    In the respect of NAACP and Dr. Barber I think until the investigation is complete and all and any evidence is presented no one should conclude anything. I also feel the officers should have more training with K-9 unit and “not be seen as a device or weapon used against the diverse population” (diversity training in order too.
    Until there is probable cause which the WPD loves to use they should be under the same laws, and actions as any other citizen in the U.S. and N.C. They are not entitled just because they carry a gun or are the Police.

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