Created: March 05, 2021 12:14 PM
The Dallas Police Department allowed an officer to continue patrolling for more than a year while investigating whether he ordered two people to be killed because it didn't want to tip him off, the city's former police chief said.
Former Police Chief U. Renee Hall, who left the department at the end of 2020, told The Dallas Morning News that the decision not to place Officer Bryan Riser on leave was made in conjunction with federal law enforcement and the Dallas County district attorney's office.
"Doing anything different, we may not have been able to bring justice to the families," she said.
Riser, 36, was arrested Thursday on two counts of capital murder and taken to the Dallas County Jail, where he was being held Friday on $5 million bond after a court appearance Thursday night.
Court records don't list an attorney for Riser, who told the court he would hire one.
Dallas' new police chief, Eddie Garcia, said Thursday that someone came forward in 2019 and told police he kidnapped and killed two people, 31-year-old Liza Saenz and 61-year-old Albert Douglas, in separate 2017 attacks. Garcia said neither killing was connected to Riser's police work, but that investigators were still trying to determine the motives.
Garcia, who became chief last month, didn't explain why Riser was arrested nearly 20 months after the witness came forward, and police declined to answer subsequent questions about the timing. Both victims were shot and their bodies were dumped in the Trinity River, according to investigators. Saenz's body was recovered but Douglas' wasn't.
Three men were charged with capital murder in the killing of Saenz: Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick and Jermon Simmons. Kilpatrick is serving life in prison for the killings of a father and son. Kidd and Simmons remain in Dallas County jail on capital murder charges stemming from the killings of Saenz and the father and son. Simmons is also charged in another death.
One of the men charged with Saenz's killing told police that he and Riser were involved in burglaries when they were young, according to an affidavit for Riser's arrest that doesn't identify the man by name.
More recently, Riser and the man allegedly hatched a plan to rob drug stash houses, but they didn't follow through with it. Instead, the man told investigators that Riser offered to pay him a total of $9,500 to kidnap and kill Douglas and later Saenz, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit states that Riser told the hired killer that Saenz was an "informant," though it doesn't elaborate and police declined to answer questions about whether Saenz had some connection to the department.
Riser has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, but Garcia said his department would expedite the process of firing him.
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)