Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson sent out a memo on Monday announcing the creation of an ad hoc committee to investigate why Ofc. Bryan Riser was allowed to remain on patrol while considered a "person of interest" in two murder investigations.
Riser was arrested last week and charged with two counts of capital murder. He's accused of ordering the killing of Albert Douglas, 61, and Liza Saenz, 31.
According to Dallas Police, a witness tipped off investigators in 2019 to Riser's possible involvement.
Since that time, the officer in question has remained on duty, even though he was considered a person of interest.
Johnson put together a committee made up of council members to investigate and conduct public hearings in regards to the matter to figure out, "the circumstances surrounding the decision to allow Dallas Police Department Officer Bryan Riser to remain on active duty after an investigation identified him as a 'person of interest' in connection with two murders in 2017."
The committee members include:
- Cara Mendelsohn (Chair)
- Tennell Atkins
- Paula Blackmon
- Jennifer Gates
- Lee Kleinman
- Adam McGough
- Jaime Resendez
In a statement, the mayor said, "This is an awful situation, and the public deserves answers regarding who knew what, when they knew it, and why the officer remained on active duty. I fully expect this committee to get to the bottom of exactly what transpired in a fair, judicious, and transparent manner.”
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Last week former Dallas Chief of Police Renee Hall said in a statement on Thursday that: "DPD Special Investigations Unit, in collaboration with the FBI, recommended not placing Riser on administrative leave. Taking that action could have compromised the investigation."
But the next day FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno flatly denied his agents made such a suggestion.
On Friday she clarified her statement from Thursday that suggested the FBI recommended Officer Bryan Riser was allowed to stay on duty so he wouldn’t be tipped off he was under investigation in two murders.
The next question is how will this impact cases that Riser has investigated as an officer.
In a statement, the District Attorney's Office said: The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office conducts its own independent investigation when criminal cases are filed. The office will thoroughly review the case file on Bryan Riser after the Dallas Police Department provides it. It is the policy of this office not to comment on cases that are under investigation prior to a grand jury hearing.
Attorneys say as the case unfolds, it could impact what happens to current and past cases.
"I thought, oh my gosh, there are going to be a lot of problems from this, it's a potential train wreck," said Dallas attorney Cynthia Barbare.
She's not tied to this case, but has notably worked on the DPD scandal in the early 2000s involving officers planting drugs on people.
Barbare said she believes the district attorney's office will be busy looking into cases involving Riser over the last several years.
"Because any cases that he's been associated with as far as the primary arresting officer, those are going to be tainted cases and those will have to be looked at," said Barbare.