A Dallas police officer was arrested on Thursday and charged with two counts of capital murder after a witness said that the officer had hired him to kidnap and kill two people and then dump their bodies in a river, the authorities said.
The Dallas police said that the officer, Bryan Riser, who joined the department in August 2008, had been charged in connection with the murders of Albert Douglas, 61, and Liza Saenz, 31, both in 2017.
The city’s police chief, Edgardo Garcia, declined to describe the relationship between the officer and the victims, but said the killings were connected to Officer Riser’s “off-duty conduct,” not his police work.
Nevertheless, Chief Garcia said, the Dallas Police Department will move to fire Officer Riser and will examine his conduct on the force and the arrests he made.
“We hire individuals from the human race and, when we find individuals such as this, it’s the actions that we take afterward that we should be judged by,” Chief Garcia said. “We will hold ourselves accountable to the highest levels.”
It was not immediately clear if Officer Riser had a lawyer. The Dallas Police Association, which represents the city’s officers, declined to comment.
Ms. Saenz’s body was found in the Trinity River in Dallas on March 10, 2017. She had been shot several times, the police said. In September 2017, three men — Kevin Kidd, 28; Emmanuel Kilpatrick, 31, and Jermon Simmons, 35 — were arrested and charged with killing Ms. Saenz, the police said.
On Aug. 12, 2019, a prosecutor told the Dallas Police that one of the men — who was identified only as a “witness” in court papers — wanted to come forward with information about Officer Riser’s involvement in Ms. Saenz’s murder, the authorities said.
Two days later, during an interview at the Dallas Police Headquarters, the witness implicated Officer Riser in the murders of both Ms. Saenz and Mr. Douglas, whose family had reported him missing in February 2017, according to the authorities. His body has not been found, although the witness told the police that Mr. Douglas had been shot and killed then dumped in the Trinity River.
The witness said he and Officer Riser had known each other for years and had reconnected in 2013 when Officer Riser contacted him and asked him if he was “still doing the things they were doing when they were young,” like committing burglaries, the witness told the police.
The witness said that Officer Riser initially promised to provide him with information about drug houses if the witness and his crew would rob the houses and then keep the drugs and give any stolen money or guns to Officer Riser, the police said.
The plan, however, never materialized, the witness said, because Officer Riser then came up with a plan to have Mr. Douglas kidnapped and killed for $3,500, the police said.
After discussing the plan at a doughnut shop and in a park, the witness said, Officer Riser drove him to a place where he identified Mr. Douglas as his target, the police said.
Several days later, the witness said, he and an associate stopped and handcuffed Mr. Douglas, put him in a car and drove him to a spot near the Trinity River, the police said. Mr. Douglas was shot and killed and his body was dumped in the river, the witness told the police.
About two weeks later, Officer Riser contacted the witness again and told him he would pay him $6,000 to kidnap and kill Ms. Saenz, the police said. Officer Riser told the witness that she was “an informant,” the police said.
Ms. Saenz was shot and killed and her body was dumped in the river, the police said. But the witness never collected the $6,000 because he and his associates were arrested in unrelated killings, the police said.
Officer Riser was also arrested and charged on May 13, 2017, with assault family violence, a misdemeanor. It was not immediately clear what happened with that case and how, if it all, it was connected to the killings. At the time, Officer Riser was placed on administrative leave, pending an internal affairs investigation. Chief Garcia said he could not discuss the specifics of that case.
The Dallas Police Department acknowledged that it allowed Officer Riser to remain on patrol after the witness implicated him in the killings, in 2019.
U. Reneé Hall, who was the police chief at the time, said the department, working with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Officer Riser at the time. She said the police and the F.B.I. also decided not to place him on administrative leave.
“Taking that action could have compromised the investigation,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “If Riser had known he was a person-of-interest, D.P.D. might not have been able to bring justice to the families.”
Chief Garcia said the department wanted to be “as thorough as possible” before it could label Officer Garcia a suspect and not merely a person of interest.
“We certainly don’t want someone slipping through the cracks that has no business wearing this uniform,” Chief Garcia said. “And so he’s a person of interest until he becomes a suspect. And that’s what the diligent work of our homicide detectives and the F.B.I. were trying to do.”