Cleared Wilmington police officer back in a different duty

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 10:19 PM

WILMINGTON — A Wilmington police officer cleared of wrongdoing after a police dog was lifted into the window of a suspect's vehicle, is returning to the force in a different role.

Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said Thursday that K-9 Ofc. Stafford Brister will remain an active member of the department, but will return as a patrol officer. Evangelous said Brister's exact return date hasn't been determined.

Video of a police chase shows Brister approaching a suspect's car after it had been stopped following a 13-minute chase. The video shows Brister lifting his dog into the open window and the dog biting Johnnie Lamont Williams, who had driven through a checkpoint.

Brister's attorney said the officer was protecting himself and other officers against the possibility that Williams would try to move his vehicle again.

Evangelous says the incident also prompted the department to take a closer look at its K-9 unit. The department plans to bring in an expert from the United States Police Canine Association to make sure the unit is up to standards.

The dog is working with another handler.

Evangelous said a decision will be made about returning the dog to duty.