Dallas, TX – A veteran Dallas police officer who was fired after being charged with two counts of capital murder was released from jail last week after prosecutors admitted they do not have enough evidence to proceed with the case against him.
Now-former Dallas Police Department (DPD) Officer Bryan Riser, 36, was arrested by his fellow officers in March for allegedly ordering three men to kidnap and kill two people in 2017, KTVT reported.
He was subsequently fired in connection with the criminal investigation, as well as for “administrative violations,” the department told KTVT.
After a Dallas homicide detective testified for over three hours on April 7, Dallas County Prosecutor Jason Fine told the court he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to proceed, according to KTVT.
“Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause for this case,” Fine told Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead.
Moorehead subsequently ordered Riser’s release from jail, KTVT reported.
Riser, who served with DPD for 13 years, walked out of the Dallas County Jail later that afternoon.
“As this office stated during an examining trial earlier today, there is insufficient probable cause in the two capital murder cases against former Dallas police officer Bryan Riser,” Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement after the ruling, KTVT reported.
“Because of this office’s obligations under the law, we alerted the defense team and the judge of our opinion that there currently is insufficient corroboration of co-defendant statements and accomplice testimony to prosecute the case,” Creuzot explained.
Riser briefly spoke to reporters as he was leaving the jail facility on April 7.
“This department that I used to love, respect, they have disrespected me. They have embarrassed my family all over a make-believe lie,” Riser said, according to WFAA. “I was 100 percent innocent from the get-go.”
Riser’s attorney, Toby Shook, said his client is innocent and that the allegations against him were nothing more than false claims from an already-convicted murderer, according to KTVT.
Creuzot said the investigation into the murders remains open, and that his office is continuing to work with the DPD, KTVT reported.
It is unclear whether or not Riser intends to try to return to his position with the DPD.
“If he is found to not have committed a crime, then he has the right to get his job back, if he chooses to go down that path,” Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata told KTVT.
Investigators said there was no connection between the victims, 31-year-old Liza Saenz and 61-year-old Albert Douglas, and that their deaths were unrelated, according to the Associated Press.
Police pulled Saenz’s bullet-ridden body from the Trinity River on March 10, 2017, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said during a press conference on March 4.
Douglas was reported missing in February of 2017, but his body has never been found, the Associated Press reported.
According to Chief Garcia, an unnamed man came forward in August of 2019 and told investigators that Officer Riser directed him to kill both victims.
The tipster was later identified as convicted murderer Emmanuel Kilpatrick, WFAA reported.
The chief noted in March that the murders were not connected to Officer Riser’s job as a law enforcement officer, but said police had not identified an alleged motive for the killings, the Associated Press reported.
Chief Garcia didn’t explain why Officer Riser was allowed to continue working for more than a year after the allegations against him were made.
Cellphone data which collected by the FBI allegedly said that Riser was near the site of both murders.
However, the dates on the cellphone data didn’t match the claims against Riser. Riser also lived in that area, making the cell phone evidence worthless.
The chief ordered an expedited internal affairs investigation into the veteran officer early last month.
“We’re going to expedite our process so this individual is no longer with the department,” he said at the time. “We will not allow anyone to tarnish this badge.”
“This individual has no business wearing this uniform,” he added, according to KXAS. “That’s just not me saying that as police chief, I guarantee you every man and woman that wears this uniform that does this job honorably does not want anyone tarnishing our badge.”
The man who tipped police off is one of three suspects who were ultimately charged in connection with the victims’ deaths, the Associated Press reported.
Riser’s attorney previously said his client had gone to high school with Kilpatrick, who has been charged with Saenz’s murder, KTVT reported.
Shook said Kilpatrick, 34, and Riser bumped into one another again in 2017 and reconnected.
Kilpatrick has since been convicted of killing a man and his son and is serving a life sentence, KTVT reported.
Shook said Kilpatrick had “all the reason in the world to lie and try to gain an advantage by trying to implicate a police officer,” according to the news outlet.
Saenz also had lived with Riser’s father at one point, but Shook said Riser “didn’t have a relationship” with her,” KTVT reported.
He further argued the veteran officer didn’t know Douglas at all.