What’s more, he added, they had also kidnapped and murdered another man under orders from Dallas police officer Bryan Riser.
On Thursday, the Dallas police arrested Riser, a 13-year veteran, charging him with two counts of capital murder for allegedly ordering the killings of the 31-year-old woman and a 61-year-old man. The man who incriminated Riser said the officer promised to pay nearly $10,000 once both bodies were dumped in the Trinity River.
Riser, 36, has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation, Dallas police Chief Eddie García said at a Thursday news conference.
“This individual has no business wearing this uniform,” García said, adding that the department is expediting the investigation to terminate Riser. “I can’t be clearer than that.”
García added Riser had a relationship with at least one of the victims but did not elaborate.
Court records did not immediately list an attorney representing Riser as of early Friday.
Riser, who joined the department in August 2008, has been suspended in the past. In May 2017, he was arrested and charged with assault after a fight with a former girlfriend, the Dallas Morning News reported. After arguing about a Facebook post, Riser told police the woman had hit him repeatedly, while she said Riser hit her right arm and threw her phone to the ground.
García said Riser was disciplined in that case but kept his job.
His alleged ties to the two killings came to the attention of detectives months after police first identified Liza Saenz as the woman found floating in the Trinity River on March 10, 2017.
In September 2017, authorities arrested Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick and Jermon Simmons and charged the trio with murder. Police said an anonymous tipster led them to Kidd, who was already in custody at the time, and who later told them Kilpatrick had forced Saenz into a vehicle.
Kidd said he drove to the river, where he met Kilpatrick and Simmons. They walked Saenz to the river bank before Kilpatrick shot her, Kidd told the police. At the time, police alleged that the men had killed Saenz because she refused to work as a prostitute, WFAA reported.
But in August 2019, one of the three men charged with Saenz’s murder told police he had more to share on the case. (Police declined to say which suspect gave the tip to protect his identity.)
The man said Riser, whom he knew from his youth, had first reconnected with him in 2013. The officer “asked him if he was still doing the things that they were doing when they were young,” the affidavit states, referring to crimes including burglary.
Riser then told the man he had a proposal for him, the man told police: Riser would share intelligence on drug houses, so the suspect and his “crew” could rob them. If they found drugs, they could keep them, Riser allegedly told him. But if they found guns or money, they were Riser’s to keep.
But that plan never materialized, the man said, because Riser came to him sometime between January and February 2017 with another plan: to kidnap and murder 61-year-old Albert Douglas for $3,500.
The man accepted the deal. Days later, he said that he and another suspect found Douglas, handcuffed him and drove him to the Trinity River, where he was shot and killed and then dumped in the river. Authorities have yet to recover his body, nor have they revealed a motive.
Riser allegedly met one of the two men to pay them $3,500 several days later. Two weeks after Douglas’s murder, the man told police, Riser contacted him again with an almost identical job. This time, the affidavit said, Riser told the man he would pay $6,000 if he killed Saenz, whom Riser called an “informant.”
The suspect said they killed Saenz as planned, but were never paid because the three men were arrested. Cellphone and squad car data compiled by the FBI corroborated that Riser met with the man to discuss the murders on the dates the tipster provided and eventually stayed at or near the area of both killings on the nights they were carried out, the affidavit said.
At his Thursday news conference, García confirmed that former Dallas police Chief U. Reneé Hall was first briefed on the allegations against Riser in 2019. But Hall said prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence yet to charge Riser, and the FBI recommended not suspending Riser so he would not compromise the investigation.
“If Riser had known he was a person-of-interest, DPD might not have been able to bring justice to the families today, and that’s the most important thing,” Hall tweeted.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (D) said he was “sickened” to hear about the charges against Riser.
“My heart goes out to the victims’ loved ones. I cannot imagine the anguish they have endured. They, and all the people of Dallas, deserve answers in this case,” Johnson tweeted on Thursday.
Riser was booked in the Dallas County Jail about 6:30 p.m., jail records show. His bail was set at $5 million. Attorneys representing Kidd and Kilpatrick did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment. A lawyer representing Simmons could not be reached.
All three criminal cases involving Saenz’s killing are still pending, court records show.