A judge on Wednesday ordered the release of a former Dallas police officer accused of ordering the killing of two people in 2017 after prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to proceed with the murder case against him.
After hearing evidence from a Dallas investigator, Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead said there was no reason to arrest Bryan Riser. He was released from prison Wednesday afternoon, according to the Sheriff County Sheriff’s Office. The 13-year-old Dallas police chief was fired after his colleagues arrested him in March on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
Riser spoke briefly as he was released from prison. “The department I loved … you didn’t respect me,” Riser said.
During Wednesday’s hearing to decide whether the case should go to the high court to determine whether he was charged, prosecutors disagreed with the detective’s assessment that they had sufficient evidence to prosecute him.
“Where we stand as the district attorney’s office at the moment, we do not feel there is enough reason for this case,” Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine told the judge.
An exchange between Detective Fine and the murder of Deteban Montenegro in court revealed that police and prosecutors first discussed the case in December 2019, but prosecutors did not think the police had a strong case. Fine also said prosecutors told police in March that they still did not think there was enough evidence.
However, police arrested Riser, 37, in the murders of Liza Saenz, 31, and Albert Douglas, 61. Police chief Eddie Garcia said last month a man appeared in August 2019 and told authorities he had sent them to kill them. Riser’s guide.
Dallas County Attorney John Creuzot said Wednesday that prosecutors do not have “sufficient confirmation of defendants’ statements and evidence of compliance” but that the investigation remains open and prosecutors continue to work with police.
In court, Montenegro admitted to having a problem with an affidavit by the police that led to Riser’s arrest. He said the claim that cell phone records put Riser in or near the scene of the victims’ murder was “my fault.”
In a written affidavit of arrest issued this week, that line was changed.
The officer’s lawyer, Toby Shook, maintained his client’s innocence and said the evidence against Riser was more than just the voice of a convicted man in other murders.
Authorities say Riser said he would pay three men to kidnap and kill Douglas and Saenz. The men were later charged with murder and one appeared to have filed a lawsuit against Riser in 2019, according to an affidavit of the officer’s arrest.
Shook earlier said Riser knew one of the men accused of killing Saenz, Emmanuel Kilpatrick, a high school student and that they reconnected in 2017 after meeting an opportunity. Kilpatrick, 34, is now serving a life sentence for murdering a father and son.
The defense attorney described Kilpatrick as “one who has every reason in the world to lie and make a profit by trying to sue a police officer.”
Dallas detectives became interested in Riser in early 2017. In September of that year, an investigator said in court that Riser was “the subject” of the investigation into Saenz’s murder, according to the case document. In announcing Riser’s arrest, Garcia had said the officer became a “suspect” in 2019.
Investigators also said that Saenz was living with Riser’s father and that before his death he had been a witness in another murder case. Evidence emerged during the trial of Riser’s father, Byron Riser.
Shook said Saenz was living with elder Riser at one time, but his client “had no relationship” with him and did not know Douglas.
Following Riser’s arrest, questions arose as to why he was allowed to continue serving as a police officer during the investigation, and the mayor set up a City Council committee to look into the matter.
Garcia told The Dallas Morning News that he was behind the decision to fire Riser.
The newspaper reported that internal media records show that Riser had been repeatedly investigated for breach of procedure. In 2017, he underwent three ongoing internal investigation investigations. After his arrest he was investigated for “misconduct.”
“I feel that we have met our limit in giving administrative allegations of not prioritizing evidence,” Garcia said.