DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has formed a committee to investigate why a police officer remained on active duty for more than a year and a half after he was implicated in two 2017 killings.
Mayor Johnson established the City Council committee Monday, March 8, after the arrest last week of Bryan Riser on two charges of capital murder.
Its creation follows days of questions about why the veteran officer was kept on patrol after being identified as a “person of interest” in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme.
“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,” Johnson said in a statement.
Riser, 36, was arrested Thursday and accused of having offered to pay three people to kidnap and kill 31-year-old Liza Saenz and 61-year-old Albert Douglas in 2017.
Douglas was reported missing and his body hasn’t been found, while Saenz’s body was was pulled from a Dallas river, with several bullet wounds, that March.
Three men were charged with capital murder in Saenz’s killing and one of them came forward and implicated Riser in 2019. The motive for the killings and Riser’s connection to the victims remain unclear.
On Thursday, March 4, former Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said that police, “collaborating with the FBI, recommended not placing Riser on leave” while he was being investigated to avoid tipping him off.
The agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office responded Friday that federal investigators did not ask police to keep Riser on duty, and Hall said in another statement later that day that it was her department’s decision.
Hall stepped down at the end of 2020. Riser’s arrest was announced by Dallas’ new police chief, Eddie Garcia.
The seven-member committee the mayor convened is empowered by the city charter to subpoena witnesses and compel public employees to turn over records.
Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, who represents the city’s most northern district, is its chair.
The Dallas Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Riser remained jailed on a $5 million bond Monday.
Riser’s attorney, Toby Shook, said Riser says he’s innocent and was blindsided by the charges against him.
Shook represented Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger, who was found guilty of murder, and now has Officer Bryan Riser as a client.
Shook said he spoke to the officer who remains in jail and said he’s convinced Riser has been set up by violent criminals.
“Why would you let a person you suspected of being a part of a capital murder be right around every day with a badge and a gun and arrest people,” said Shook. “It makes no sense.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)