Wilmington officer tosses K9 onto suspect

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WILMINGTON, N.C. -- A Wilmington police officer involved in an incident in October has been cleared of any wrongdoing, but new dash camera video showing exactly what happened has started a debate in the community over if excessive force was used.

New video shows WPD K-9 officer, Stafford Brister, lifting his police dog and forcing it through the driver's side window right into the driver's lap.

Brister was one of the law enforcement officers who responded to a chase in Wilmington.

The video shows the police dog attacking the driver. Later, an injury report detailed that Johnnie Williams had lacerations to his face.

Monday, a grand jury made up of 15 people, saw the video several times and heard about the laws on the use of force and when a police dog can be used.

District Attorney Ben David said he wanted to put this case in front of the jury to decide if Brister should be charged with assault inflicting serious injury.

"I believed it was a close enough legal question that the community should decide whether the use of force was reasonable and I would not rule as a matter of law that it was," he said.

Ultimately, the jury decided Brister should not face criminal charges.

It all started on October 31 when authorities say Johnnie Williams drove through a DWI checkpoint at Market and 15th Streets, leading several law enforcement agencies on a chase which ended on Castle Hayne Road and N. 23rd Street.

Dash camera video shows just how dramatic the chase was. At one point, a patrol car even turns the wrong way down a one way street trying to catch Williams.

Officers reach him outside a cemetery, but video shows Williams ramming into a patrol car before taking off again.

Video also shows Williams going up and down Wilmington streets, even running stop signs. Officers eventually forced him to crash.

Williams said the attack happened so fast, he claimed he didn't even have the chance to surrender. He went to the hospital for treatment of injuries from the police K-9. Williams face and shoulder required stitches.

Today, a grand jury indicted him on charges including assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, being a habitual felon and traffic violations.

An ongoing internal investigation is currently underway. Officer Brister will remain on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

Chief Ralph Evangelous won't comment on the video that was released Monday because of that ongoing internal investigation. He did say, however, "Sometimes the job we do is not pretty."


  • Raven Youngblood

    the dog should have never been put into the car…with cops on both sides of the mans car, they had enough force to remove him without the dog…..just another way cops abuse the power they have….and people wonder why cops have no respect….SMH

    • Joust

      Is this from your many years of experience as an officer on the street? Strap on a gun and a badge, work the street for a few years, then come back and talk, big mouth. And contrary to popular belief, we don’t care whether or not you respect us.

      Just curious, does the driver who risked so many lives trying to escape bear any responsibility? No, because you’re just a cop hating loser.

      • anom

        Oh, it plain to see police dont care!!! It’s just a power trip for most of them. This officer should be charge with animal abuse!!

      • Wide Awake

        Guess what Joust? If any of your mindless police buddies had the brains to stop and consider, “hey, maybe chasing this guy is so dangerous at this point, it would do more harm than good” then things would be different. But no, you apply the same ego driven tactics, to ensure you catch your guy. It’s not even about the crime the guy committed, deep down every one of these officers are chasing this guy because they refuse to let him get one over on them. That, is not what “the police” are supposed to be here for. “Protect and serve” yet there is absolutely zero service for anyone other than the “man” and protection…well, I guess this guy would have done all that wreckless driving even if there weren’t tons of blood thirtsy cops chasing him huh? Wrong, he def shouldn’t have been doing what he did, but the extent of which you pieces of sh*t go to to enforce not just this crime, but even the most petty of crimes, is even more wrong. The American Police are nothing more than a pack of bullies. Few are genuine, most are former life outcasts, desperately searching for their chance to be alpha dog. These types are never going to question the things they do, and are told to do, and that is exactly the way it is meant to be.

        Surely, for me to feel this way, I TOO must be a criminal, because only criminals would question the authority of the police right? Wrong, yet that is exactly how the sheep are programmed to respond. I am simply a human being, born into this f*cked up country we live in, with a mind of my own, and the ability to discern for myself what is right and wrong. No man has or should be given power and authority over another. What power is there to even give? Only the power that WE THE PEOPLE ALLOW. Our quiet submission, is the fast track to the death of not only this country, but this planet. We have been told that without governance, we would be animals. There would be looting and rioting. Surely we could never survive! That is yet another exaggerated fabrication. The human race is capable of so much. We are born knowing nothing but love, with the ability to change the world. Then we are conditioned into the animals they portray us as.

      • dewey

        As a former MP….he was completely wrong in what he as an officer did…now after pushing his “partner” through the window, had something happened to the dog, the driver would have been held responsible, yet it was the officer who put the animal FORCEFULLY in a position of danger

  • mommacass76

    didn’t give him time enough to surrender?!?!?!?! Oh come on! He had plenty of time while you were trying to run over three police officers and endangering the public in a high speed car chase. People like him disgust me. You’re lucky you didn’t get shot!

  • Wayne Spencer

    Some law enforcement perform their duties with class, professionalism and respect. these are the officers that deserve the publics respect and usually get it. There are always the other ones. Lets don’t call them officers because they’re not.

  • Chucky1992

    I don’t feel sorry for the idiot but I do think the officer was wrong to put the dog through the window. I’m glad the grand jury didn’t charge the officer but he probably should not be a K-9 handler any more.

  • anom

    That’s just animal abuse. Reminds me of the State Highway Patrol just got off after we all saw on video the abuse of his K9. Said that was standard TRAINING…..BULL

  • mike jones

    This guy had every chance to stop, go through the check point or bail. He chose to run. He deserves to be bitten my every dog on the force and punched in the face by every cop and citizen who he CHOSE to put at risk. Why do some of you always want to blame officers when some clown wants to act out?? If your family member or someone you know had been harmed in the chase this guy started by his choices, would you just blame the cops or would you be a little angry that this habitual felon was even out in public?

    • Bennie Holloway

      people like you are half the problem,you think just because they have a badge people are supposed to just submit to their every command or be harmed and that is wrong,the criminal was in the wrong for sure but did not warrant having a dog thrown upon him to be bitten.

  • Matt

    The K9 Handler had only seconds to make a decision on using his dog for an apprehension. I agree that this suspect could have been taken into custody another way, but then I would be Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It’s easy to say what you would have done when your life is not in danger and you hav’nt been in a high pursuit chase with various dangers. Everyone becomes an expert, but doesnt realize the stresses of Law Enforcement. Did this suspect have a prior assaultive history? Did he pose a threat to officers lives? Did he have a firearm on him inside this car? These are questions that officers ask themselves throughout their shift. I would rather go home to my family safe, than worry about some dirtbag that just endangered everyones lives for their own personal gain.

  • l337g33k

    In this thread, Police are evil and stupid for actually doing their job to chase down criminals. Not to mention, it’s fine for the bad guys to make the decision to run and endanger the public and be expected just to be let go.

  • The Buzz

    I cannot even believe some of the comments on here. If someone you love and care about was hurt or killed by this criminal then I assure you that your anti police / excessive force views would disappear. A k9 is a tool just like the officers firearm. The suspect was clearly dangerous and just because he was finally boxed in does not mean that he could not inflict harm upon those officers. Maybe there’s a handful of officers that get carried away sometimes but most do a great job and risk their lives everyday to keep everyone safe. For you ignorant anti cop people here is something to think about :the same officers that you don’t respect and you dislike are the same officers that are going to respond priority to your residence to save you and your family from a violent home invasion, disregarding their own safety without hesitating. Let officers do their job the way they have to do it. The job is not easy all the time and they have to make decisions in seconds, sometimes with little information. It’s easy for you anti cop people to sit back and criticize officers but walk a 8 hr shift in their shoes and maybe you would understand the job and stress a little better. Thank you to all the brave men and woman in law enforcement!!!!

    • Debbie

      Great post. I agree with you 100%. This man had no regard for anyone much less the police officers. The men and women on the police force put their life on the line every day to protect and serve our community and they deserve our respect. They have earned it. I for one appreciate each and every one of them.

    • Wide Awake

      I know this is old, but so you know, my mother and father were both shot inside their home. Thankfully my parents lived, but the shooter was never arrested, despite my parents giving them the full information of the guy, including his home address, and the addresses of several of his family members. I still remember the frustration and awe my parents experienced trying to get the local police force to actually do their job. However, I do not dislike the police for this reason. I dislike the police because I have an open mind, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of observation to come to the same conclusions I have. It merely takes the fortitude to set everything you’ve been conditioned to accept as reality aside, and reexamine the world you live in as a whole. This is hard for simple minds to comprehend, thus leading to ignorant comments on online forums. Too many people put their trust in what is setup before them, simply because they don’t understand the alternative, or even the idea of an alternative. This is human nature, and it is the very reason things are as they are. It is the reason the world will never change. It is the reason these same people think it is ok that they have food on their table and a roof over their head, while many in other countries do not. Is this relevant? Absolutely, and with an open mind and half of an intellect, anyone can understand how it is all connected. Many will read my comments and disregard them as crazy talk, That is ok by me. Some, however, will read and receive the spark. Let it light a fire inside you for the truth. A raging fire starts with a spark, and what this country needs is an inferno of knowledge.

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