UPDATED: 2:44 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021
A Texas judge ordered the release of former Dallas cop Bryan Riser, who was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder after reportedly authorizing two killings in 2017. The charges against Riser were also dropped.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead made the decision on Wednesday following hours of testimony where prosecutors claimed there was not enough sufficient evidence to move forward.
Riser’s wife and attorney fought for his release, arguing that banking records and other key evidence proved his innocence, WFAA reports.
Riser, a 13-year veteran of the DPD was taken into custody by his colleagues last month for the unrelated killings of Liza Saenz, 31, and Albert Douglas, 61. His arrest came after a man told DPD members that he was order to kidnap and kill Saenz and Douglas at Riser’s direction.
The Dallas Police Department kept an officer on the force while he was secretly investigated for putting out hits on two people.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia admitted to knowing about these allegations since 2019. Bryan Riser was arrested Thursday. A 13-year veteran of the force, Riser is alleged to have ordered the kidnapping and killing of two people in 2017.
Garcia could not explain why Riser remained on duty for almost two years. Garcia only recently took over as police chief last month.
Garcia also said Riser was on patrol until his arrest, according to the Associated Press. Despite the two counts of capital murder, Riser remains employed by the department. The chief said the administrative investigation is moving as quickly as possible.
Arrests by Riser are also under review. The FBI and homicide division are handling the ongoing investigation into Riser. So far there does not seem to be a connection between the killings of Lisa Saenz and Albert Douglas.
An arrest affidavit said that Saenz was shot and dumped in the river. Authorities never found Douglas’s body. CNNreported three other people were charged in connection with the two killings. Their identities were not disclosed in the arrest affidavit.
In an interview with conservative talk radio, the head of the Dallas Police Association threw Riser under the bus. Mike Mata, the Dallas Police Association president, said bad bad cops need to be held accountable, but did not think this was a reflection on the rest of the department. Garcia echoed a similar sentiment in his remarks.
The remarks are a stark contrast to the usual statements from police associations and unions, which generally support officers no matter how heinous the accusations.
Last summer, renewed conversations of police accountability and justice challenged police budgets. Calls to defund the police paved the way for discussions about investing in new ways to keep the public safe.
Keeping an officer suspected of ordering two people killed on active duty could raise questions for organizers about what else the department is keeping from communities. The Dallas Police department’s budget increased $8 million in the most recent budget. Dallas spends over half a billion on policing.
It’s been a bad week for at least two Black cops in the South.
Police in Tampa said White’s violations stemmed from talking on the phone in November when he said the words, “ghetto n******.” The officer’s body camera was somehow activated and recorded White saying the fateful words. After that recording sparked an investigation, White told his bosses weeks later that he also used the N-word during an arrest he made. White’s body camera, again, recorded that exchange, as well.