Local News

Leading Off (3/5/21)

What we know about the bizarre murder case against a Dallas police officer.

Cop Allowed to Patrol Despite Being Investigated for Murder. Ofc. Bryan Riser, a 12-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, was a person of interest in a pair of murders since 2019. Former Chief U. Reneé Hall had been briefed on the matter. Using guidance from investigators with the Department of Justice and the district attorney’s office, the chief allowed Riser to continue to patrol the South Central division. Doing otherwise would, she told the Dallas Morning News, “compromise the murder investigation.” Police didn’t have enough evidence to secure an arrest warrant until this week, when a man accused of murder said Riser paid him to do it. In 2017, a few months after Riser was arrested on a misdemeanor family violence charge—and still allowed to remain on the force—30-year-old Lisa Saenz was found in the Trinity River near downtown by some boaters. She’d been shot. Six months later, a tipster pointed police to three suspects. They were charged with murder. In August of 2019, one of those men told investigators that Riser had paid them to kill Saenz and another 60-year-old man named Albert Douglas. Douglas’ remains haven’t been found. Riser had been the subject of multiple internal investigations, including “escalating or participating” in a disturbance. He’ll keep being paid on administrative leave until an internal investigation is complete. Chief Eddie García said Riser “has no business wearing this uniform.”

ERCOT Overcharged $16 Billion for Electricity. Last week, I learned all about electricity scarcity pricing by talking to two former energy retailers who sold their companies. They were fearful that the state would allow generators to sell electricity at exorbitant rates, which is allowed when supply is low and demand is high. According to an independent market monitor, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas—acting with permission from its oversight body, the Public Utility Commission of Texas—kept prices too high for two days after the storm. What is too high? About $9,000 per megawatt hour, when it was just $50 before the storm. The decision resulted in excess charges of $16 billion, which will surely cause defaults and bankruptcies. We’re already seeing that.

Full Vaccination Effort for Educators Could Take Weeks. State and federal directives now ask counties to add teachers and child-care professionals to the list of eligible vaccine recipients. But the county doesn’t enough vaccine to pull it off. As it stands, County Judge Clay Jenkins is using the 17 FEMA priority ZIP codes to vaccinate educators who live there. The state, it seems, isn’t really communicating with the county about this. Which is super reassuring, especially considering we’re a few days away from the governor’s mitigation efforts flying out the window.

Beautiful Weekend Ahead. Until Saturday, with highs in the low 60s and lows in the 40s, we’ll have to deal with a minor chance of rain. Like, 10 percent today. It’ll be mostly sunny this weekend, with Sunday peaking at 67 degrees. Enjoy it. 

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