A former Dallas police officer was arrested and charged with murder for allegedly ordering two killings in 2017, but on Wednesday a judge ordered his release after prosecutors agreed they don't have enough evidence to move forward with the case.
BROOKE KATZ: Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us. I'm Brooke Katz, CBS 11 News at 4, now streaming CBSN Dallas-Fort Worth.
It is an arrest that shook the Dallas Police Department, but former officer Bryan Riser will soon be released from jail as the murder cases against him appear to be crumbling.
JB Miles is at the Dallas County Jail where Riser is expected to leave after a month in custody. JD, what happened?
JD MILES: Brooke, we're told Bryan Riser will be out of jail within the hour. That was about 20 minutes ago. His attorney says he will speak to the media on a day that could not have gone any better for the former Dallas police officer. It's extremely rare for a judge to find no probable cause to keep a capital murder suspect behind bars. It's even unprecedented for a Dallas County district attorney to agree with that decision. But that's what happened here today.
A judge has ordered the release of former Dallas police officer Bryan Riser after she found insufficient evidence that he could have solicited the murders of two people in 2017. His attorney asked for an examining trial, which can speed up the legal process and have a judge look at the merits of the case before it goes to a grand jury. Judge Audrey Moorehead presided over that this morning, which included a look at the evidence and testimony from the lead homicide detective over the investigation.
Riser had been secretly investigated for more than two years while still on patrol as a Dallas police officer after one of three men accused of killing two people told authorities that Riser offered money to commit the murders. But that claim by a violent convicted felon is about all the evidence detectives have on Riser, who was arrested and fired shortly after by Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia who took over the department. Riser's attorney accused the chief of rushing to judgment against Riser and acting prematurely, ruining the officer's career and reputation.
TOBY SHOOK: Apparently what happened is, when Chief Garcia was briefed on it, he gives the order to arrest him, and Detective Montenegro said he wasn't ready. He wanted to continue to investigate. But he had to follow his chain of command, which triggered all this. That's the major problem with this case, is the decision by Chief Garcia to order that arrest. Why he did that, what information he was given, I think it had to be obviously faulty information he was relying on.
JD MILES: Riser's attorney, Toby Shook, got the homicide detective on the stand to admit that crucial evidence in the original arrest warrant-- cell phone data placing the officer near the murder scenes-- was false.
TOBY SHOOK: The only way you could read this though when Judge Kemp signed it was, he is in the area when they are kidnapped and murdered-- his cell phone would be.
ESTEBAN MONTENEGRO: That's correct.
TOBY SHOOK: All right. That wasn't true.
ESTEBAN MONTENEGRO: That statement is not true, no.
TOBY SHOOK: OK. But you typed it out and put it in there, correct?
ESTEBAN MONTENEGRO: I made a mistake, yes.
JD MILES: The judge ordered Riser to be immediately released after a month in custody.
And the Dallas County District Attorney, John Creuzot, released a statement saying his office would still assist DPD with its investigation, but "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 the co-defendant's statements and accomplice testimony to prosecute the case." Riser's attorneys insist their client had nothing to do with the murders and that the killers are only trying to frame him to get a lighter sentence.
And we'll have more on Bryan Riser's first words-- when he comes out of jail here shortly-- later on at 5:00 and 6:00. Live in Dallas, JD Miles, CBS 11 News.
BROOKE KATZ: A story we'll stay on top of, JT. Thank you.