DENVER, USA – Two Colorado police officers were charged on Monday, November 7, with leaving a handcuffed woman in a patrol car parked on railroad tracks, where it was struck by a freight train, seriously injuring her.
The woman was charged with felony menacing over an alleged road-rage incident that led to her arrest in a traffic stop, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, was accused of brandishing a handgun at another motorist near the town of Platteville, about 40 miles north of Denver, on the night of September 16, according to police.
Officers from multiple agencies responded to the incident, and Rios-Gonzalez was stopped, handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol vehicle that was parked straddling the train tracks, police said.
None of the responding officers moved the vehicle off the track, and police video footage showed a Union Pacific freight train, its horn blaring, plow into the parked SUV.
Rios-Gonzalez suffered nine broken ribs, a broken arm and leg, broken teeth and other injuries, said her lawyer, Paul Wilkinson. She is out of the hospital and recovering at home, he said.
The most serious charges were lodged against Fort Lupton police officer Jordan Steinke, who faces one count each of attempted manslaughter and second-degree assault, both felonies, prosecutors said.
Sergeant Pablo Vazquez of the Platteville police faces five counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment and traffic charges, authorities said.
A spokesman for the Platteville police said he could not comment on the case, and Fort Lupton police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wilkinson said he was told last week that Rios-Gonzalez would be charged, which he called disappointing. He said he would file a federal lawsuit against police for his client’s injuries and for violating her civil rights.