‘We hold the D.A. accountable’: Family of SAISD detective killed in 2019 upset over plea deals

Off-duty SAISD Detective Cliff Martinez killed outside IHOP on South Side

SAN ANTONIO – A man once charged with capital murder of a police officer received a 15-year plea deal Monday on a lesser charge of assault of a peace officer.

Alfredo Martinez-Contreras was one of two men charged with running over SAISD Det. Cliff Martinez outside a South Side IHOP on Dec. 19, 2019.

SAISD detective Cliff Martinez, who was killed while working security on Dec. 21, 2019. (KSAT)

In court, Martinez-Contreras on Monday accepted a plea deal for 15 years.

The co-defendant in the case, Jorge Armando Lopez, took a 20-year plea deal in November 2022 on a manslaughter charge.

Jorge Lopez, 23, has been charged with capital murder in the death of SAISD Detective Cliff Martinez. (KSAT)

The family of Cliff Martinez was not happy with the district attorney’s office over the plea deals.

“We hold the D.A. accountable for this, we’re very frustrated,” the victim’s brother, Dennis Martinez, said. “They just had no interest in ever pursuing these cases for whatever reasons.”

Dennis Martinez said it was only three days ago the prosecutor on the case called him about the latest plea deal.

“He said, ‘You know, straight up, I’m just giving a courtesy call to let you know that we’re doing this plea deal.’ We don’t really care what the family wants,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the entire situation is a big injustice to his brother and all police officers in the city.

“The police officers feel that there are targets on their backs. And in my brother’s case, he was literally thrown under the car by this DA and this justice system,” Martinez said.

While Martinez-Contreras has accepted the plea deal, he will officially be sentenced on April 24.

KSAT 12 emailed the district attorney’s office asking for a statement and for an interview with DA Joe Gonzales and received the following response:

The current prosecutor assigned to the Alfredo Martinez-Contreras case evaluated the available evidence and determined there was not sufficient evidence to prove the offense of Capital Murder of a Police Officer but identified sufficient evidence to prove the offense of Assault of a public servant, a second degree felony, with a range of punishment up to twenty years. The prosecutor accordingly amended the indictment to reflect the offense that could be proven and Martinez-Contreras entered a plea for fifteen (15) years TDCJ-ID. Sentencing has been reset for one week, to allow for out-of-town family to be flown to San Antonio to be present for sentencing and to afford them an opportunity to make a victim impact statement. Given that the defendant was exposed to up to 20 years at trial with the potential of an appeal upon a guilty verdict, a plea of 15 years in prison avoids putting the complainant’s family through the stress of a trial and a possible appeal.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales believes it is best to wait until the conclusion of sentencing to make a statement when the complaint’s family will be allowed to have their voice heard.


About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.