Dallas officer facing capital murder charges was under suspicion two years earlier, documents say

Court records show the Dallas police officer jailed on two capital murder charges was the subject of the investigation earlier than first known.

The Dallas Police Department said last week they began investigating Ofc. Bryan Riser in 2019 and he remained on the job until his arrest last Thursday. He was fired Tuesday by the department after an internal investigation.

DPD, where he worked for 13 years, says he orchestrated a murder for hire plot — putting out two successful hits on a man and a woman — in 2017. Three men were arrested and charged with capital murder. Police say one of them came forward in 2019 accusing Riser of hiring them for the jobs.

"I think their case is actually weak because it all comes from three convicted felons who have every reason to lie and try to get some kind of deal by getting Bryan Riser arrested," Toby Shook, Riser’s attorney.

"He was identified as a suspect in 2019," Chief Eddie Garcia said the day of Riser’s arrest. "He doesn’t become a murder suspect until we have probably cause that he is a murder suspect."

But according to court documents, Riser was on the department’s radar two years earlier in connection to his father, Byron Riser, who was convicted of drug distribution.

A Dallas police detective testified at a hearing in 2017 for Byron Riser that they’d connected Ofc. Riser to their murder investigation because of "phone calls made" between the involved parties, including Ofc. Riser.

When the detective is asked, "Is he (Bryan Riser) a subject of that murder investigation as well?" the detective answered "Yes."

Court documents also reveal the woman Ofc. Riser is accused of having murdered was an alleged prostitute living at the Oak Cliff apartment with Riser’s father. The documents describe her as an "informant" in a murder case.

Shook says Riser’s only involvement was to run a warrant check on the woman’s husband in 2015 at the woman’s request. Shook says Riser was questioned by police for that and reprimanded, but that was it at the time.

Former Dallas police chief Renee Hall says she wasn’t aware Riser was a murder suspect in the woman’s death — the body found near the Trinity River — until 2019, but says there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him and a decision was made to keep him on the job to avoid compromising the investigation.

Dallas police say they don’t know what motivated Officer Riser’s alleged actions and Shook says that may be one of the prosecution’s biggest hurdles.

"You would think if a police officer is paying hit man to kill people, he’d be involved in a criminal enterprise … they produce no evidence of that. There’s no reason for him to kill people," Shook said.

Riser's brother, who is a Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy, was also mentioned in the 2017 court documents. That department says he remains on active duty and referred further questions to DPD.

As for Bryan Riser's case, shook says he expects a grand jury decision in the next three months.


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