Grand jury declines to indict Dallas police detective accused of misconduct in capital murder arrest of fellow officer


DPD Homicide Detective Esteban Montenegro had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal and internal affairs investigations.


A Dallas County grand jury on Friday declined to indict a Dallas homicide detective who was accused of criminal misconduct in the capital murder arrest of a fellow police officer. 

Dallas Police Detective Esteban Montenegro had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal and internal affairs investigations after he was charged with two felony counts of tampering with government records and one felony count of perjury.

In a statement to WFAA, Montenegro said his “only goal was to pursue justice.”

“Detective Montenegro is an innocent man and an excellent detective who was doing his job in protecting the people of Dallas,” Montenegro’s attorney Messina Madson told WFAA. “We are pleased the grand jury did the right thing.”

Last March, the Dallas Police Department referred Montenegro’s case to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney John Creuzot then requested his office be recused from the case, and the Kaufman County District Attorney’s Office took over.

Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh Wiley said her office spent hundreds of hours preparing the case. The presentation to the grand jury took about an hour and half, and the grand jury quickly returned the no bills on the three cases.

“I respect the grand jury’s decision,” Wiley said.

The criminal investigation arose out of Montenegro’s handling of the March 2021 arrest of former Dallas Police Officer Bryan Riser.

Riser was arrested on March 4, 2021, after the 12-year police veteran was accused of hiring someone to kill two people. He was fired by DPD a few days later.

Warrants for Riser’s arrest show that much of the case against him was based on the word of a convicted killer, Emmanuel Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick had been in jail for about two years when he came forward in August 2019, claiming that Riser had hired him to kill Lisa Saenz and Albert Douglas.

However, issues with Montenegro’s handling of the case quickly became apparent.

The original warrants, signed by a judge, said a preliminary analysis from the FBI “revealed that the suspect’s cellphone placed him in or about the area during the time frame” of both victims’ disappearances and subsequent killings.

However, after Riser’s arrest, Montenegro returned to the judge and said that information had been taken out because it was not true. Cellphone data did not place Riser’s phone at the time of the killings.

Montenegro testified during the hearing that he made a mistake, which he attributed to a “cut and paste error.”

The charges against Riser were dropped in April 2022, after a judge found there was no evidence to hold him.

Civil lawsuit filed

In May 2022, Riser filed a lawsuit against Montenegro, accusing him of orchestrating his arrest.

More than a year later, not a single piece of additional evidence had been found,” the lawsuit says. “Nonetheless, Montenegro went ahead with the arrest that he had already been told was unsupported by probable cause.”

Riser is appealing his firing.

Editor’s note: The following video originally aired on April 6, 2021.


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