Judge rules there is no probable cause to hold former Dallas officer Bryan Riser on capital murder charges

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Riser’s wife and attorney believe that banking records and other evidence they’ve gathered will be key to exonerating him.

DALLAS — Updated at 2:11 p.m. with a statement from the district attorney’s office. Editor’s note: This story previously misidentified the district attorney at the hearing.

A Dallas County criminal court judge ordered the release of former Dallas police officer Bryan Riser Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Audrey Moorehead ordered his release from the Dallas County jail and ruled there is no probable cause to hold Riser on two counts of capital murder.

His release should happen sometime Wednesday afternoon. Her ruling came after about 3 hours of the detective on the case being questioned by the defense and the prosecution.

The Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Jason Fine said in open court they didn’t believe there was enough probable cause to hold Riser.

“We have an obligation — under the U.S. Constitution, under the Texas Consitution, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, under our duty as prosecutors — to see that justice is done,” Fine said in a statement. 

“If we get to a point in any case, no matter who the defendant is, no matter who the witnesses are, that we feel there is insufficient probable cause, we have to alert the defense and alert the court. We have to do something. We can’t just sit by.” 

Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia announced Riser’s arrest on March 4. The chief said investigators developed evidence that the 12-year veteran paid to have two people killed in 2017. He fired Riser a few days later.

The hearing Wednesday, called an “examining trial,” is typically held pre-indictment.

The district attorney’s office released a statement after the hearing saying while there is insufficient probable cause in the two capital murder cases, that does not mean the investigation is closed. 

“We look forward to continuing our work with the Dallas Police Department on this or any other cases that are investigated in the city of Dallas,” Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot said in a written statement.

RELATED: Attorney, wife say case against former Dallas police officer accused of murder is flawed

Arrest warrants for Riser’s arrest shows police based much of their case on the word of Emmanuel Kilpatrick, a convicted killer.

WFAA learned Tuesday that Dallas police replaced the original warrants that they had taken to the judge to sign last month. 

The most significant change in the new warrants has to do with records connected to Riser’s cell phone, which police had used as evidence to connect him to the crimes, the documents showed.

In the warrants that were originally submitted in March, officials said a preliminary analysis from the FBI “revealed that the suspect’s cell phone placed him in or about the area during the time frame” of both victims’ disappearances and subsequent killings.

But in the updated warrants, that was removed.

Instead, the warrants now claim the cell phone data analysis from the FBI shows Riser and Kilpatrick’s cell phones were in the area where Kilpatrick says he met with Riser to “plan the kidnapping and murder” of the two victims. The original warrant also mentioned that Riser’s squad car was also shown to be in the area but the new warrant does not mention a squad car.

However, Riser’s attorney, Toby Shook, says these are significant changes and point to sloppy police work.

Dallas police have not explained the discrepancies between original warrants and the updated warrants.

Emmanuel Kilpatrick was considered a witness in the case and told investigators that the officer, Bryan Riser, allegedly offered him thousands of dollars and instructed him to kill the two victims, according to a previous arrest warrant affidavit.

Riser’s wife and attorney believe that banking records and other evidence they’ve gathered will be key to exonerating him.

Eboni Samuel Riser spoke to WFAA after the judge’s ruling Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re so excited, we’re so happy because the truth is finally coming out and that’s what we’re here for, is the truth,” she said.

“DPD owes us an apology at this point,” Eboni said. “How do you restore someone’s credibility? Can he get a job now? There’s so many other things, the case needs to be completely closed.”

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