WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A Wilmington police officer on administrative leave is speaking out for the first time since being cleared by a grand jury in an incident involving a K-9 under his control.
In October, Stafford Brister was one of the officers involved in a police pursuit that started at a DWI checkpoint on Market and 15th Streets. Police say Johnnie Williams drove through the checkpoint, leading several officers on a chase that ended at 23rd and Castle Hayne Road.
Dash cam video of the incident showed Brister lifting his police dog into the driver's side window while the suspect had his hands up. A grand jury decided the incident should not result in criminal charges against the officer.
However, Brister remains on leave as the city investigates the incident internally.
Brister's attorney, J. Michael McGuiness, has said all the officers used restraint in this particular chase. Sunday, Brister reached out to local police radio talk show Blue Line Radio's Facebook page with a comment about how his K-9 partner is being treated during this internal investigation. Brister's full comments posted on the show's page follow in italics:
Every time I come home, the silence rings in my ears. I walk by Kaas's empty food and water bowls. The water has all dried up now. I know if I pick them up...I am giving up. So I leave them there and look at them. His bone also remains, waiting for him to come home and go straight for it. And then there are the "hair bunnies", dog hair hidden where the vacuum missed. They roll across the floor when the A/C cuts on. It is all too familiar from when my first patrol dog Jeecoh died, and when Kaas stepped in to take his place. I can only wonder what Kaas is thinking. He was simply taken from me and our home, and placed in a 10x10 kennel. All he knows is that he sits in a kennel, day after day, and never goes to work. I imagine his confusion as to what happened, and why he went from happy to lonely. But then again, it's kinda the same for me. Both of us just want to go back to work, doing what we do as a great team.
While the City does what it does, it's not surprising to be treated as I am, but to have such a cold heart for Kaas is unconscionable. Kaas is being treated and considered as a piece of property, equipment as it seems, no different than that of a car. There is shame somewhere, other than on my part or Kaas'. I will not stop fighting for myself or for Kaas. I fully intend to return to work, with Kaas, and pick up where we left off, working to protect the wonderful citizens of the City of Wilmington...I can promise you that.
Linda Rawley of the Wilmington Police Department released a statement Monday in response to Stafford Brister's comments.
The response follows in italics:
The Wilmington Police Department takes great pride in it's K-9 Corps. Wilmington Police dogs are given exceptional care and treatment by Officers who have been professionally trained to handle police dogs. In the event a K-9 is seperated from it's handler the police dog is boarded with another K-9 Officer within the unit. All K-9's are purchased and owned by the City of Wilmington.