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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.

  • Guest 9876

    They really did! After watching the clip that they released, as well as the “interview” with the criminal done by WWAY, getting gnawed on by the dog while they worked to gain access to the vehicle was completely in line. The cop was made a scapegoat by WPD brass.
    Awww… poor little gang banger thug got nibbled on. Too bad he didn’t take care of himself by missing a turn, and finding a pole during the chase. Wait til his fellow gang members figure out what he told the police while in custody…..

  • Guestomfg

    I say we need hundreds of K9 dogs. Every policeman should have one in his car and use them often. Criminals hate dogs.


    SBI is only looking out for itself when they brought in the Grand Jury. The NAACP already had an attachment to this case and it was being blown up by the media for no reason!!! So how does the SBI avoid the media and “Racial” conflict? They send it to a GRAND JURY. That way when no charges are filed the SBI is not the escape goat the media is looking for.
    The officer didn’t get place in another position because he did anything wrong in arresting the CRIMINAL. He probably didn’t have the training that was needed or required. The officer didn’t endanger the Suspect, He endangered the K-9 when throwing him into the car. They don’t care about LOW LIFE POS that run from the “MAN”
    Thing is if your on here defending the actions of the suspect then your are probably not far from being his roommate in the prison so no one really cares what you think anyway!!!

  • BillOBrien

    The SBI did exactly what it was supposed to do…as did the Grand Jury. The facts of the case were put together by the SBI investigation. That report was then sent to the Grand Jury to decide if ANY charges would be raised against Ofc. Brister. The SBI makes no recommendation to the Grand Jury, they simply present the facts of the case. The Grand Jury made he decision that there was nothing that would support charging Ofc. Brister with ANY crime.

    With regards to Chief Evangelous, he has completely lost the confidence of his department. He tried to bend over backwards to give the NAACP and certain members of the media and community a head on a platter. A 13 week long administrative investigation is unheard of. Most murder investigations are handled in half the time.

    Evangelous has now come out and stated that Ofc. Brister will return to patrol duty without his K9. WHY? He has been absolved multiple times now and they still continue to try to punish him.

    We have come to a time in this area where we try to placate the offenders for no other reason than their skin color. That is the most racist bit of all.

    Add to this insanity the fact that Linda Rawley (who has never met a lie or diversion she didn’t like) came out and told the citizens of Wilmington that they are safe because gang bangers only go after other gang bangers. That statement is so stupid and irresponsible that I will not even comment on it.

    At a time when crime is escalating, WPD’s answer is to take away tools available to law enforcement and make it easier for criminals to victimize the public.

  • Vog46

    The SBI found enough evidence to bring it before a Grand Jury which is used for Major or felony crimes only. They did not indict.
    This does not absolve the officer of anything other than felonious crimes. (Or there could very well be lack of law regarding the actions of the officer).
    IT is bothersome to me that the SBI referred it to a Grand Jury.
    Evangelous is part politician here. Crime is up in the city yet he’s not held accountable. Why? Because he cherry picks that stats he wants to use to “promote” himself and the Wilmington PD.

    I’m becoming uneasy with him at the helm. Perhaps it is time for change in regime here.


  • tke1

    So you think a CRB (Citizen Review Board) would be wonderful? OK. Let’s give them the responsibility of making recommendations to the Chief/City Personnel Board, Who ever. Keep in mind, when the chief makes a decision he is personally liable for that decision. Each member of the CRB should be held civilly liable for their decisions, just like the cops on the street.
    Every CRB I have known of has been a politically correct, feel good, sold out bunch of appointees who bow to every half wit and activist that throws his/her 2 cents worth into a situation. They have voted according to the whims of the public, not the facts of the situation.
    Yeah, go ahead and appoint a bunch of do-gooders.
    All of you dime store, ambulance chasing lawyers: pay attention. This might be a gold mine for you. If the Chief is to be held accountable, as he should be, so should the CRB.
    Oh, yeah. All you officers who are not FOP or PBA members, if this doesn’t tell you to sign up, you are not listening and watching. As members, you can have legal representation from the onset of a situation, just like the thugs and crooks. Don’t you think you are just as good as they are? Don’t you deserve the same treatment?

  • Eric Barnes

    Unless the LEO review board is made up citizens that are not affiliated with the department along with some department officials, these “reviews” are nothing more than blue watching out for blue. There is no way they can conclude an unbiased report.

  • portcity

    The innocent look after innocent like the criminals look after criminals. Difference is one s on the right side of the law. Most review boards do consist of unbiased citizens, minorities, professionals and people that are looking for a reason to charge an officer (not trying to make one up, A REAL REASON!!)for a crime. Here’s a free tip: Following the law and use common sense to determine your actions if you want to avoid “BLUE”. You’ll get “CHARGED” for the next tip!!

  • JimJohn

    Isn’t that what the Grand Jury was? A “review board made up citizens that are not affiliated with the department.” And didn’t this review board (Grand Jury) find the nothing criminal had occurred? And this was just one of many reviews and investigations (one of which is still ongoing by the FBI).

    Look, I understand the anger and the frustration with things not working out the way you felt they should, but to suggest that this case was handled in a corrupt way fuels the flames of those hate the police only because they prevent or hinder their criminal activity.

  • Guest2020

    Who should review incidents involving police officers? The Wal-Mart cashier? Maybe the burger flipper at Burger King? How about the waitress at Waffle House? The garbage man?

  • joe citizen

    Ahh, Brister did go in front of the most powerful “citizen review board”…it’s called the Grand Jury. The jury consist of 18 citizens, black, white, male and female. They cleared him of any wrong doing. The facts haven’t changed, and WPD IA cleared him. Maybe you need to have a deep look inside yourself if you cannot except what the truth is.

  • Vog46

    “And didn’t this review board (Grand Jury) find the nothing criminal had occurred?”

    Nope it only found nothing felonious had occurred OR that there are no laws covering what DID happen.
    This does NOT absolve the officer of what he did NOR does it mean he did something wrong. It just means there’s no laws against it.
    Personally? I find what the officer did to be a bit over the top considering the circumstances but I wasn’t there. This seems to be like the School Supers sex case – no policy against it until the really need one…….like now.
    I am a big supporter of all LEO’s but this just didn’t sit right with me.

  • J j

    Wow , let me get this straight . The guy was not only running from the police in a car and failed to stop until the vehicle he was driving was rammed by a police car. Then he failed to comply by not getting out of the car after it had stopped. So they sent the dog into get him and the violator got bit. So the officer went before a grand jury , why ? After a month long investigation he was cleared of wrong doing. But still being punished because he lost his dog . Yeah that makes complete sense. That’s like if the officer was involved in a shooting , you clear him and tell him he can come back to work but you can’t have a gun anymore . Chief fire yourself or find some balls . I mean seriously and people want to know what’s wrong with the world today.

  • Candy

    I agree and what I do not understand is why they are even taking this officers K9 away from him. Sounds like he is being reprimanded and for what? Doing his job? Officers are to be commended for the job they are doing, they have a difficult job that is getting more and more difficult, they are underpaid and work every day not knowing if they will get to go home at night. They are disrespected, shot at, cursed at, repeatedly fought and consistently criticized no matter how they handle a situation. I think this officer deserves a commendation for a job well done.

  • guesty

    I’m surprised chief didn’t just make up “facts” and let the clique run Officer Brister out. He doesn’t seem to mind allowing it to happen to many officers. If the command staff doesn’t like an officer, suddenly that officer is dismissed from duty for a made up reason.

    The best part is he was cleared from any criminal charge, no policy violation found yet he is still being punished. Kind of makes you wonder what is wrong with the chief.

  • Guest350

    To quote one of the Chief’s favorite terms…….what a bunch of “sugar-coated” BS. The incident was filmed. The suspect had his hands up, surrendering. The doofus shoved the animal through an open window while another bozo beat on the passenger side of the vehicle to further excite the dog and escalate the situation as he enjoyed every second of the action. These officers should be terminated and have their state certifications revoked. LEO seems to rely a lot on video evidence to convict suspects, but when the video stars an officer doing something wrong, they will try to convince us thet what we saw is not what happened. Incredible. No investigations were warranted. The facts are on tape. Money and time wasted. How can the public trust a department that commits such actions and consistantly finds in the officers’ favor?

  • ontape

    You are 100% correct. Facts were on tape. The whole tape not just the part where subject was arrested. This man almost ran over officers and sped dangerously through populated areas. How many times have you watched a show like cops and an officer makes a stop and person seems to surrender then all of a sudden he hits the gas and pulls a gun???? It happens all the time. Who would you blame if he had killed one of your family or friends. There was one very simple action that could have prevented the whole situation. STOPPING. My (almost) three year old daughter knows to pull over when you see blue lights. Common sense tells that people don’t run for no reason. Unfortunately the officers didn’t find the evidence.

  • WilmMan

    And you should have your right to comment revoked. I guess you forgot not too long ago a similar situation where the suspect acted as if he was going to surrender then tried to run over the female officer? This LOSER THUG ran from the police, tried to run officers over and resisted 100%. Why did he run from the police??? Was it because he was wanted? Was it because he had drugs and/or weapons in the car. You are probably one of those idiots who thinks officers should be fired upon before firing themselves. I say give this Officer and his K9 an award.

  • joe

    Watch the video closer because you are missing a very important detail: The defendant put his hands up and then reached across to the passenger side and locked the doors. His behavior was ambiguous at best, not obviously surrender and still resisting arrest. He could have had a gun in his lap and started killing officers in .05 seconds.

    The officer could legally use force to arrest: baton, fists, tazer, pepper spray, dog. He used his dog, and the dog did what it was trained to do. Good dog. Good officer. He used enough force to end the threat but not so much to as to cause permanent damage.

    Turns out the defendant was a three time convicted felon who didn’t want to go back to prison so he was willing to risk citizen’s lives, the officers lives, and his own in his reckless flight.

    You think the next criminal might just pull over rather than risk a K9 bite? Me too.

    Keep it up WPD. We love you guys, especially regular working cops. Keep it real. Shoot straight.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    What is the latest on the Boiling Spring Lakes shooting of the 19 year old?
    Kinda got quiet on that ordeal. 3+ weeks now???
    Wonder if my question will get posted here?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    ….was the poor dog treated for food poisoning? The average criminal is about as hygienic as a used Petri dish.

  • guesty

    Where have you been hiding? You went AWOL for a while.

  • Beach Bum

    “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.”

    End of story. Reinstate officer Brister back to the k9 unit and move on chief.


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