2 police officers, Sgt. Pablo Vazquez and Jordan Steinke, charged after train hits patrol car with handcuffed woman, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, inside KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Thursday, November 10, 2022

2 police officers, Sgt. Pablo Vazquez and Jordan Steinke, charged after train hits patrol car with handcuffed woman, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, inside

2 police officers charged after train hits patrol car with handcuffed woman inside.

Two police officers in Colorado have been charged nearly two months after a 20-year-old was seriously injured when she was struck by a train while handcuffed in the back seat of a patrol SUV parked on a railroad crossing.

Jordan Steinke of the Fort Lupton Police Department was charged with one count of criminal attempt to commit manslaughter and one count of second degree assault, both felonies, as well as one count of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, the Weld County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Monday.

Pablo Vazquez of the Platteville Police Department was charged with five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment; one count of obstructing highway or other passageway, a petty offense; one count of careless driving, a traffic infraction, and one count of parking where prohibited, also a traffic infraction.

Steinke and Vazquez could not immediately be reached at numbers listed for them. It's unclear whether they have retained attorneys.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has said the officers were responding Sept. 16 to an alleged road rage incident involving a gun.

A Platteville police officer stopped Yareni Rios-Gonzalez's car just past a set of railroad tracks, north of Platteville, near Denver, and parked the patrol vehicle on the crossing.

Two Fort Lupton officers arrived and she was detained on suspicion of felony menacing. She was placed in the back of the Platteville officer's vehicle, which the train hit as it was traveling northbound while officers searched her car.

Last month, officers pursued Yareni Rios-Gonzalez in a road rage incident where she allegedly flashed a gun at another driver, the report said. In the body camera footage, Platteville Police Sergeant Pablo Vazquez (for whatever absent-minded reason) parked his police cruiser on the train tracks when he pulled over Rios-Gonzalez. Fort Lupton Officer Jordan Steinke is seen in the video putting handcuffs on Rios-Gonzalez, walking her to Vazuqez’s cruiser and putting her in the backseat.

“Yes. I didn’t know she (Rios-Gonzalez) was in my car because when the train hit I said ‘Was she in my car?” and [Steinke] said ‘Oh my God, she was.’ So I didn’t know she was in my car anyhow,” Vazquez responded in the video, also claiming he thought he’d cleared the tracks.

Vazquez dug himself a deeper hole claiming he was “too focused” searching her vehicle for weapons to notice the several signals from the train horn...or the sound of the train approaching...or the lights of the train cart approaching. Y’all buy that? I don’t.

Read more about the case from Denver Gazette:

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke announced three charges Monday against Fort Lupton police officer Jordan Steinke including criminal attempt to commit manslaughter, reckless endangerment and second degree assault. The weapon in the charging document is described as a locomotive.

Fort Lupton Police Chief John Fryar told The Denver Gazette that Steinke is on administrative leave with pay “until we can figure this thing out.”

Also charged in investigation was Platteville Police Sergeant Pablo Vazquez, who parked his cruiser on the tracks as he stopped the woman who was hit by the train. Vazquez faces five counts of reckless endangerment, one count of obstructing a highway, one count of careless driving and one county of parking were prohibited.

Rios-Gonzalez did, in fact, have a gun in her vehicle as was charged with felony menacing. However, she is being represented by a civil attorney. It’s unclear whether she will file a suit against the officers.

In body camera video of the incident, Rios-Gonzalez is seen pulled over in front of some railroad tracks. She was then handcuffed and placed inside Vazquez's police cruiser, which he had stopped on the railroad tracks. As the officers searched Rios-Gonzalez's vehicle, a train whistle can be heard approaching. The police cruiser was then hit by the oncoming freight train with Rios-Gonzalez still in the back. 

Rios-Gonzalez suffered serious injuries following the collision, but has since been released from the hospital, according to CBS Colorado.

She is charged with one count of felony menacing, the Weld County District Attorney's Office said.

A CBS News Colorado investigation found that Vazquez had previously been labeled as a "significant" liability risk by another department he worked at.

Vazquez has been placed on leave. An attorney for Vazquez told CBS Colorado that they could not comment "until I see the full indictment."

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