No probable cause in case of ex-Dallas cop accused of directing killings, judge rules

Emerson Clarridge
·2 min read

A Dallas County Criminal Court judge on Wednesday ordered that authorities release from custody a former Dallas police officer who is suspected of directing a man to abduct and kill two people in 2017.

Judge Audrey Moorehead ruled there was not adequate probable cause to believe that Bryan Riser committed two counts of capital murder.

Moorehead ruled at the end of a preliminary hearing during which a Dallas police homicide unit detective testified that he had added an erroneous reference to evidence in the affidavit that led to Riser’s arrest.

“Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause for this case,” Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine told the judge, according to the Associated Press.

The detective, Esteban Montenegro, said during the hearing that an assertion that cellphone records placed Riser at or near where the victims were killed was “an error on my part.”

Riser was released from the Dallas County Jail late Wednesday afternoon, the AP reported.

Dallas police wrote in a statement that the department respects Moorehead’s ruling.

“However, it is important to note that investigators followed the legal process and presented two probable cause affidavits to a Dallas County District judge for review, and sufficient probable cause was found,” the police statement read. “The detectives assigned to this investigation are committed to seeing justice being served for the victims and their families, and we fully support their efforts. This investigation remains open and ongoing.”

Police Chief Eddie Garcia fired Riser on March 9, a week after his arrest. The department stands by his termination, which was based on administrative violations as well as the criminal investigation, according to the police statement.

Riser had been employed by the department since August 2008 and was assigned to the South-Central Patrol Division.

Riser was accused of orchestrating the deaths of Lisa Saenz, whose body was found in the Trinity River in March 2017, and Albert Douglas, whose body was never recovered, Garcia has said. Douglas, Garcia said, was reported missing by his family in February 2017. Witnesses later stated he was kidnapped and murdered in the 200 block of Santa Fe Avenue.

Saenz was kidnapped before she was shot several times, Garcia said. Her body was located in the river, also in the 200 block of Santa Fe Avenue.