Rios-Gonzalez was essentially locked in her own coffin and remained helpless as the train demolished the cruiser.
Weld County, CO — As TFTP reported last year, a 21-year-old woman was forced to fight for her life in the hospital after one of the most irresponsible law enforcement actions TFTP has ever reported on. The woman was locked in the back of a police cruiser, left on train tracks, and unable to escape the speeding train coming her way. After we reported the original story, investigators released the video from that night. And now, the officer has been charged.
Platteville police officer Jordan Steinke was initially charged with second-degree felony assault. This week, however, that charge was dropped, and prosecutors are pursuing attempted reckless manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless endangerment for locking Yareni Rios-Gonzalez in a patrol car on train tracks. Steinke, on Thursday, pleaded not guilty.
The Fort Lupton Police Department released body camera and dashcam video in September, showing Rios-Gonzalez inside the patrol car — handcuffed — as it was hit by the train.
Rios-Gonzalez has since filed a lawsuit accusing officers of acting recklessly and failing in their duty to take care of her while she was in their custody. In the lawsuit, Rios-Gonzalez alleges the train tracks were “plainly visible” to Steinke when she put Rios in the back seat of the patrol car, according to CPR.
According to reports, officers were searching the woman’s vehicle, utterly oblivious that a train was barrelling down the tracks. As they rifle through Rios-Gonzalez’s personal effects, a train horn is heard before it plows into the cruiser’s side, sending it flying more than 30 feet into an adjacent field.
An attorney hired by the family of Rios-Gonzalez, Paul Wilkinson, told WMUR that his client was trying desperately to escape, but she could not.
“When she was in the back of the car, she could see the train coming,” Wilkinson said. “She was frantically trying to escape, trying to open the doors, but she was handcuffed.”
As officers remained oblivious to the train, Rios-Gonzalez tried to warn them, screaming and banging to get their attention. But, unfortunately, they didn’t hear or care to pay attention to her.
“I don’t know if they just couldn’t hear her or if they were too busy searching her car, but she saw it coming and prepared for the worst,” he said. “And as you can imagine, lost consciousness and woke up at the hospital. She’s obviously very upset.”
As we reported, police received a call about an alleged road rage incident involving a firearm. The 20-year-old woman’s car allegedly fit the description from the caller, and a high-risk traffic stop was conducted. The stop was high-risk because it occurred in the middle of a railroad crossing.
Two Ft. Lupton officers reportedly stopped the woman just past the tracks as Stienke pulled up behind her, leaving her cruiser parked directly on the tracks. As the officers detained the woman, they handcuffed her and placed her in the back of the Platteville officer’s car — still parked on the train tracks.
Instead of moving the patrol car off the tracks, the officers instead began clearing the woman’s car first. As they were moving the woman’s car from the road, however, a train traveling northbound came barrelling down the tracks and plowed into the cruiser with the woman unable to escape.
Rios-Gonzalez was essentially locked in her own coffin and remained helpless as the train demolished the cruiser. Denver 7 reports Rios-Gonzalez was hospitalized for weeks with a “significant brain injury.” She reportedly broke nine ribs, suffered a broken arm, broken teeth, and multiple severe head injuries.
Rios-Gonzalez’s lawyer, Paul Wilkinson, said, “She’s recovering, but it will be a long road. She’s doing physical therapy, counseling, working with her surgeons.” He added, “There is a combination of what I assume is post-traumatic stress disorder and [physical injuries.]”
Below is the video.
Article posted with permission from Matt Agorist
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