No indictment for Dallas officer accused of misconduct

Feb 24, 2023, 1:47 AM | Updated: 4:05 pm

DALLAS (AP) — A grand jury on Friday declined to indict a Dallas homicide detective whose investigation led to a fellow officer being arrested on capital murder charges before a judge said the case lacked probable cause.

The Dallas County grand jury had considered two charges of tampering with records and one count of perjury against Esteban Montenegro.

Montenegro’s investigation had led to Bryan Riser being arrested in March 2021, accused of ordering two killings in 2017. Riser, a 13-year veteran of the department at the time, was fired after his arrest.

But about a month later, a judge ordered Riser’s release from jail after prosecutors said at a hearing that they didn’t have enough evidence to move forward with the case.

During that hearing, which was held to decide if the case against Riser should go forward to a grand jury, Montenegro admitted to a problem with a statement in the police affidavit that led to Riser’s arrest. He said a claim that cellphone records placed Riser at or near where the victims were killed was “an error on my part.”

Dallas police later filed cases with prosecutors accusing Montenegro of tampering with records and perjuring himself in the investigation.

Montenegro’s attorney, Messina Madson, said they were “pleased the grand jury did the right thing.” She said Montenegro is “an innocent man and an excellent detective, who was doing his job and protecting the people of Dallas.”

Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley was assigned the case against Montenegro after the Dallas County district attorney recused his office. Wiley said Friday that her office had spent hundreds of hours preparing the case. She said the grand jury was “very engaging,” and she respected its decision.

Montenegro was placed on administrative leave in December 2021. Dallas police said Friday that Montenegro remained on administrative leave, and that an Internal Affairs Division administrative investigation will resume.

Riser, who has maintained his innocence, filed a lawsuit last year in federal court alleging that Montenegro violated his civil rights and falsely arrested and jailed him.

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No indictment for Dallas officer accused of misconduct