City Hall

Ex-Cop Bryan Riser Says Dallas Police Took His Livelihood

Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead said sufficient evidence still wasn’t there and ordered Bryan Riser to be released April 7.
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead said sufficient evidence still wasn’t there and ordered Bryan Riser to be released April 7. iStock/DallasO75219
Bryan Riser thanks God for being released from the Dallas Police Department’s custody. Just a couple of months ago, he wore the DPD police uniform as he worked the South Central Patrol Division. Now, after being accused of taking part in two murders, he says he’s lost all respect for the department.

“What you have done to me and still trying to do is sickening,” Riser said of the department in a Facebook post.

Just days before, he was sitting in a jail cell on a $5 million bond.

Investigators alleged Riser ordered the kidnapping and killing of two people in 2017, Albert Douglas and Liza Saenz. According to the DPD, one of three suspects arrested for the Saenz murder implicated Riser in the crime two years later.

Three suspects were identified and arrested for kidnapping and killing Saenz and Douglas. They were 28-year-old Kevin Kidd, 31-year-old Emmanuel Kilpatrick and 35-year-old Jermon Simmons. They all face capital murder charges.

But Riser’s examining trial, which would determine if the case should go before a grand jury, revealed there were errors in the original probable cause affidavits and that prosecutors didn’t believe there was enough evidence to pursue the case when it was brought up in 2019.

During the trial, homicide Detective Esteban Montenegro testified that he made mistakes when he wrote the affidavits. DPD uploaded updated versions of the affidavits last Tuesday.

Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Audrey Moorehead said sufficient evidence still wasn’t there and ordered Riser to be released April 7.

“Just imagine your life changing in the blink of an eye over a lie,” Riser wrote on Facebook. “My name has been put in the [mud], character slandered, embarrassed, and lost my livelihood. But even through it all, I haven't lost my faith.”

He didn’t discuss the case in any detail, but Riser has maintained his innocence from the beginning and said he spent 34 days behind bars for something he had no involvement in.

Riser said he feels fortunate to have his attorney, Toby Shook, and that it could have played out very differently for him if he didn’t have good representation. “I would still be in jail now,” he said.

“What you have done to me and still trying to do is sickening.” – Bryan Riser, Former Dallas Police Officer

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Shook claimed the person who implicated Riser in the murders was trying to get a plea deal. “He was trying to manipulate the system, and he did a pretty good job,” Shook said.

“Before he even sat down and talked with the detective, they gave him a deal where he got a life sentence for murder rather than capital murder,” Shook said. “He was about to be tried for capital murder, and they weren’t seeking the death penalty, but if he was found guilty was going to get life without parole.”

He would have been eligible for parole under a regular murder charge, Shook said.

DPD could try to charge Riser again, but they’d need more evidence. Dallas County prosecutor Jason Fine said the investigation is ongoing and that there could be developments in the future.

“I have no idea where this investigation is going, and if there’s sufficient probable cause down the line, we’ll take the case, bring it before a grand jury. We’ll get that indictment and take it to trial just like we do on any other case where we have the evidence,” Fine said.

At a press conference the day after Riser’s release, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia vowed to continue the investigation into the former cop’s link to the murders.

“I support the work that our detectives did,” Garcia said. He also pointed out that the original arrest affidavits and the updated ones were all signed by state District Judge Tammy Kemp.

The latest affidavits indicate that Saenz was living with Riser’s father, Byron. Additionally, they state that the three suspects in the Saenz and Douglas murders were on the hook for another set of killings. The three suspects, as well as a woman named Joy Tiara Gray, who was dating Simmons, were arrested for the shooting deaths of three other people: Irby Walton Jr., Irby Walton Sr. and Cristobel Zepeda, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Although Garcia wouldn’t elaborate, he said an internal affairs investigation into Riser found “administrative issues” during his time with the department.

Investigators determined that Riser lied about not knowing the identity of an “anonymous tipster” who reached out to him with information about the Walton murders, according to the affidavits.

Garcia said he stands by the decision to fire the former DPD officer. But Riser is appealing his termination from the department, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Shook said Riser is working to get his life back and will explore every avenue to do that.

Riser said in his post: “I'm out of jail but I'm not right. Like I be literally sitting at table and start crying. I don't know if I'm suffering from PTSD or what but I'm not right. But I'm about to try and relax and get my house back, my order.”

First l,and foremost I would like to thank God. Without him none of this would be possible. My family and real friends...

Posted by Bryan Riser on Thursday, April 8, 2021
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn