|Cop Who Unleashed K-9 on Suspect Won't Be Charged|
|By STEVE OSUNSAMI (@SteveOsunsami) and ANTHONY CASTELLANO (@AntCastellano)||Dec 11, 2013, 1:48 AM|
A grand jury declined to indict a North Carolina K-9 officer, clearing him of criminal charges after dash cam video showed him pushing his dog through a car window and into a driver's lap at the conclusion of a wild police chase.
A grand jury Monday in Wilmington, N.C., cleared K-9 officer Stafford Brister of criminal wrongdoing after dash cam video showed the officer lifting the dog into Johnnie Williams' car in October. The dog then attacked Williams, who sustained injuries to his face and shoulder. Police say just minutes before the attack, Williams blew through a DWI checkpoint.
New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David, concerned that Brister's actions were excessive, said he wanted to put this case in front of the jury and see if the officer should be charged with assault inflicting serious injury.
"This one I regarded as close enough where the community should be involved," David said.
This incident began Oct. 31 when Williams, 42, drove through a DWI checkpoint, according to authorities, and led police on a chase through downtown Wilmington. At one point during the chase, Williams rammed a patrol car before racing off.
Police were finally able to get Williams to stop by crashing into his vehicle. After the chase ended, dash cam video shows Williams with his hands up as police approached his vehicle.
"I stopped and I gave up my rights, you know, when I tried to hold up my hand," Williams told ABC News affiliate WWAY-TV in a jailhouse interview.
That's when Brister lifted the K-9 through the driver-side window and into Williams' lap. Police broke through the passenger side window and dragged Williams out of the vehicle and away from the dog.
Jurors watched the video several times in court and sided with Brister, who is on administrative leave.
Police won't comment on the incident, pending an internal investigation. Police did tell ABC News that they had to chase Williams for miles through downtown and into the northern region of the county.
Williams, accused of nearly running over three officers during the chase, was indicted by the same jury on charges, including assault with a deadly weapon on governmental officials.
"I didn't do anything forceful against the officers. I did not do anything," Williams said.
Williams, who remains behind bars, will next appear in court January.