A Dallas police officer is in custody and is facing two charges of capital murder for ordering the deaths of two people, a man and a woman killed months apart in 2017.
Dallas police said Thursday afternoon that Police Officer Bryan Riser, a veteran of the force since 2008, was arrested Thursday morning and is awaiting processing at the Dallas County Jail.
Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia said a witness came forward in August 2019 and implicated Riser in the murder of 30-year-old Lisa Saenz, a woman who was shot multiple times before her body was found in the Trinity River in March 2017.
In September 2017, NBC 5 reported three people had been arrested and charged with Saenz's murder -- 28-year-old Kevin Kidd, 31-year-old Emmanuel Kilpatrick and 35-year-old Jermon Simmons. So far, none of the men have been to trial for Saenz's murder; court records show Kidd has two murder charges pending while Kilpatrick and Simmons have three murder charges still pending. Kilpatrick is currently serving a life sentence for the murders of Irby Walton Jr. and Irby Walton Sr.
Garcia said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that the witness told police that he kidnapped and murdered Saenz at Riser's direction. Garcia said the witness also told police he was instructed by Riser to kidnap and kill Albert Douglas who was reported missing in February 2017.
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Garcia said witnesses said Douglas had been kidnapped and murdered in the same location as Saenz though Douglas' body has not been found.
Our partners at The Dallas Morning News reached out to former Chief of Police Renee Hall to ask if she was aware that the officer was named a person of interest in the murders in 2019. She told the paper that she was briefed but that "being a person of interest is not enough to secure a probable cause warrant for arrest." She said a strategic decision was made, after discussing the case with the FBI and Dallas County DA, to not place him on leave as to not compromise the investigation.
An arrest affidavit will be released later in the day detailing the investigations into the murders. A motive for the killings is not yet known and the investigations into both murders, with the assistance of the FBI, are ongoing, Garcia said.
Riser is currently being processed and will be turned over to the Dallas County Jail. He's on administrative leave pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs administrative investigation and Garcia said they are moving as quickly as possible toward termination.
"This individual has no business wearing this uniform. That's just not me saying that as police chief, I guarantee you every man and woman that wears this uniform that does this job honorably does not want anyone tarnishing our badge," Garcia said.
In May 2017, Riser was arrested after being accused of misdemeanor assault family violence causing bodily injury. An Internal Affairs investigation was done at the time, though the results of that investigation are not yet known and Garcia declined to share any additional details about the result of that investigation Thursday afternoon other than to say that Riser was disciplined.
Dallas police said Riser has been with the department since August 2008 and had been assigned to the South-Central Patrol Division. Garcia said they will be looking at Riser's arrest record in light of the charges against him.
Garcia defended his department and officers, saying Riser does not represent the many men and women who police the city daily.
"We hire individuals from the human race and when we find individuals such as this it's the actions that we take afterward that we should be judged by," Garcia said. "We will hold ourselves accountable to the highest levels."
"The actions that have been investigated in no way reflect the actions of the men and women who proudly wear this uniform and it certainly does not reflect on the heroic, professional and dedicated sacrifices that I have witnessed since arriving," Garcia said. "However, let me be clear in a promise to our city and to our men and women who serve with honor on a daily basis, that we will not allow anyone to tarnish this badge. As we all know the actions of a few affect the many. I, we, have committed to you to take the criminal element off of the streets of the city of Dallas, to perform relentless follow up on anyone who does harm to this city and that includes within the walls of this police department."
A bond amount has not been confirmed and it's not clear if Riser has obtained an attorney.