Fort Worth

November 13, 2013

Former Benbook police detective arrested in Fort Worth wreck

A Fort Worth couple has sued former Benbrook detective Jason Montgomery and another former officer, saying they were responsible for injuring them in a wreck in west Fort Worth, and fleeing the scene.

A former Benbrook police detective was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in a wreck that injured two people in August in west Fort Worth.

Jason Montgomery, 39, of Fort Worth is also named in a lawsuit filed by the injured people, Jeffrey and Abigail Panfil, also of Fort Worth. They accuse him of running from the scene of the Aug. 24 collision at the intersection of Ridgmar Boulevard and the Interstate 30 service road.

Fort Worth police said in a statement Wednesday that “after a long and extensive investigation,” an arrest warrant was obtained for Montgomery in a case of “accident causing serious bodily injury or death.”

Montgomery turned himself in Wednesday at the Tarrant County Jail, records show. He was released on $15,000 bail. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Montgomery and two other Benbrook officers — Sgt. Chad Peabody and Detective Jason Lee — were the focus of an internal investigation after the wreck, and all have resigned, Benbrook Police Chief James Mills.

“They were well-respected in our department, and it was pretty shocking for us,” Mills said.

Fort Worth police said they were summoned at 2:15 a.m. Aug. 24 to the wreck. They found that a red 2006 Dodge pickup had collided with a 2012 black Lincoln sport utility vehicle, according to a news release.

“The occupants of the Dodge pickup fled the scene,” the news release said.

Police began investigating who owned the truck.

The lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages of at least $100,000, was filed in September by the Panfils. The suit says the wreck caused them pain, anguish, impairment and lost wages.

Montgomery and Peabody resigned soon after the wreck, Mills said. According to the suit, Peabody was with Montgomery in the pickup.

Although Lee was not in the truck, he was placed on administrative leave based on reports that he may have had “some involvement,” Mills said. Lee resigned in September, Mills said.

The suit says a third officer was contacted by Montgomery and Peabody “to arrange a getaway car for them.” Lee’s name is not mentioned.

Neither the Panfils nor their lawyer could be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The internal investigation ended with the officers’ resignations, Mills said.

Any criminal charges will be pursued by Fort Worth police because the wreck happened in that city, he said.

The Benbrook department already had a personnel shortage when the three officers quit, Mills said. The department is authorized for 41 officers, but now it’s eight short, he said.

Montgomery and Peabody both had more than 15 years on the force, and Lee had at least 10, he said.

“It came at a bad time for us,” Mills said of the resignations. “All these guys were veteran officers, senior officers. They had a lot of experience and training.”

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