In the nearly one year since Bryan Riser was released from jail – and two murder charges were dropped – the former Dallas Police officer maintains his innocence and wants his job back.
Events this week may bolster that effort.
Dallas Police filed three felony cases against homicide detective Esteban Montenegro. He was the lead detective investigating Riser’s alleged involvement in two murders back in 2017.
Riser had been accused of ordering three men, Kevin Kidd, Emmanuel Kilpatrick and Jermon Simmons, to kill Albert Douglas and Lisa Saenz in 2017.
However, on the witness stand in April 2021, Montenegro admitted the probable cause affidavit that led to Riser’s arrest, initially said cell phone evidence placed Riser near one of the locations of the killings at the same time.
A later version submitted to a Dallas County judge removed the language about cell phone evidence and relied solely on the account of a convicted felon because an examination of Riser’s location data did not support the original affidavit.
Montenegro said including the factually incorrect statement in the original probable cause warrant was a mistake. It led a Dallas county judge to agree with Dallas County prosecutors 11 months ago that DPD did not have probable cause to arrest Riser.
Instead, in the months since, Montenegro’s actions received a closer look by DPD’s public integrity unit, which investigates accusations of possible criminal wrongdoing by city employees, including officers. The three felony cases include two counts of tampering with government records and perjury related to the Riser investigation, according to our partners at The Dallas Morning News.
Attorney Messina Madson represents Montenegro and did not immediately respond to request for comment on Friday.
DFW-based criminal defense attorney Josh Healy is not associated with this case. Healy, who spent more than a decade as an assistant prosecutor in Dallas County, described the investigation into a homicide detective for potentially perjuring himself on the witness stand as “extremely rare.”
“If these allegations are true, I can’t repeat enough how important and how tedious the DA’s office is going to have to go back and look through every single case that he touched,” Healy said.
DPD told NBC 5 Montenegro has been on administrative leave since December but it would not comment on administrative or criminal proceedings.
The Dallas County district attorney’s office recused itself, so the Kaufman County prosecutor will review DPD’s claims against Montenegro and decide whether to present the case to a grand jury.
Riser still awaits a hearing to determine if he has a chance to get his job back.
Toby Shook represents Riser and said his client maintains his innocence and that there has been no update on the criminal case that led to charges being dropped against him. He did not comment on the allegations toward Montenegro.