A former Dallas police officer arrested last month on capital murder charges has been released from jail and had his charges dropped after a judge ruled he could not be held, according to reports.
Bryan Riser, a 13-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was accused of hiring three people to kill Albert Douglas and Lisa Saenz in 2017.
He was freed on a $5 million bond following a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead found that police did not have enough evidence to keep Riser behind bars.
Prosecutors for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office also agreed there was insufficient evidence to move forward with the case against him, FOX 4 of Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
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“I just want to say this right here. This department that I used to love, no I’ve got to say it, they have disrespected me. They’ve embarrassed me, and embarrassed my family all over a make-believe lie,” Riser said after walking out of jail Wednesday.
On Thursday Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia, who fired Riser days after his arrest, denied claims that he rushed the case and ordered an arrest. Garcia added he was disappointed in the judge’s decision to drop charges against the former officer and said the department will continue its investigation, FOX 4 reported.
The chief said he stood by the detectives’ work in the case. He also noted that State District Judge Tammy Kemp signed two arrest warrant affidavits, on March 3 and Monday, according to the Dallas Morning News. Detectives submitted an updated warrant affidavit to correct errors in the first one.
During the court hearing Wednesday, Detective Esteban Montenegro admitted he had made errors in the first probable cause affidavit used to arrest Riser, the paper reported. That included cellphone data that incorrectly claimed to place Riser near where Saenz and Douglas were kidnapped and killed.
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An exchange between Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine and Montenegro in court revealed that police and prosecutors first discussed the case in December 2019. However, prosecutors didn’t think the police had a solid case. Fine also mentioned that prosecutors told police last month that they still didn’t think there was enough evidence.
Riser was arrested March 4 and was fired five days later. He was accused of hiring three men — Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick, and Jermon Simmons — to kill Douglas and Saenz. Kilpatrick later came forward and implicated Riser, saying he ordered the killings, according to police records and reports.
Riser’s defense attorney Toby Shook said that Garcia should not have ordered the arrest.
“You’ve seen the affidavit which had all kinds of mistakes in it – is, I guess, what they relied on,” said Shook. “To cause him to be jailed for more than a month, to ruin his reputation based on the flimsiest of evidence. So that’s the major problem with this case is the decision by Chief Garcia to order that arrest.”
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Dallas police said they don’t plan on reinstating him, adding that the murder case wasn’t the only reason he was fired, FOX 4 reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report