A 13-year veteran of the force, Bryan Riser angrily told reporters after his release that the Dallas Police Department embarrassed him and his family over “make-believe” charges.
DALLAS (CN) — A Texas judge ordered the release Wednesday of fired Dallas cop Bryan Riser after prosecutors admitted to a lack of evidence in two separate murder-for-hire cases.
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead ordered the release of the 13-year Dallas cop after a two-hour hearing.
“The court does find that there is no probable cause to refer the defendant to the Dallas County grand jury and the defendant is ordered discharged at this time,” Moorehead said.
Riser, 36, was arrested on March 4 and has been held on $5 million bond since. Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said at the time a witness came forward two years ago and admitted to kidnapping and killing Liza Saenz, 31, and Albert Douglas, 61, in two separate attacks in 2017. Dallas police allege neither killing was related to Riser’s police work and that both victims were shot and dumped in the Trinity River.
Riser’s arrest made national headlines because he was allowed to stay on the force for over 19 months after the allegations were made. He was placed on administrative leave upon his arrest and quickly fired.
Three men were ultimately charged with Saenz’s murder — Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick and Jermon Simmons. Kilpatrick was sentenced to life in state prison for the killing of a father and son, while Kidd and Simmons are in county jail awaiting trial for the killing of Saenz and the father and son. Simmons also faces charges in a fourth death.
One of the three defendants told police he and Riser participated in burglaries when they were younger, according to one of Riser’s arrest affidavits. The affidavit claims the unidentified defendant told investigators Riser offered him $9,500 to kidnap and kill Douglas and later Saenz.
Defense attorney Toby Shook, with Shook & Gunter in Dallas, pressed hard against Dallas police detectives who testified Wednesday. Shook’s questioning centered on how police zeroed in on Riser as a suspect after speaking with Kilpatrick, someone facing a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Shook told the judge Kilpatrick “had all the reason in the world to lie and try to get an advantage” by implicating a cop with his crimes.
Riser was met by reporters and his family outside of the county jail. He angrily said he felt “disrespected” by a police department “that I used to love” before his arrest.
“They have embarrassed me and have embarrassed my family all over make-believe,” Riser said. “I’m now going home to enjoy my family.”
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot agreed that “there is insufficient probable cause” in the two cases against Riser.
“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 said in a written statement after the hearing. “This does not mean the investigation is closed.”
Dallas police said it respected Judge Moorehead’s decision to release Riser.
“However, it is important to note that investigators followed the legal process and presented two probably cause affidavits to a Dallas County District judge for review, and sufficient probable cause was found,” Dallas police said in a written statement. “This investigation remains open and ongoing.”
Dallas police added that Riser’s firing was also based on unspecified administrative violations, not just the murder investigations.