A young Colorado woman arrested by police was seriously injured after being hit by a freight train while sitting in the back of a squad car. The police officer who parked his car on the train tracks has been placed on paid leave while officers investigate the accident.
On Friday, September 16, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez was taken into custody by a Platteville Police Department officer on suspicion of a threatening felony, possibly a traffic rage, in Fort Lupton, Colorado, involving a weapon. After arresting her, he placed the young woman in the back of his squad car.
The police officer left the 20-year-old in his squad car, which was parked at the railroad track intersection near US 85 and County Road 38 north of Platteville, near Denver, to join Fort Lupton officers to search the woman’s vehicle to search what they had parked a few yards from the platforms, reports NBC News
While the officer and two other officers from the Fort Lupton Police Department were searching Rios-Gonzalez’s truck, a northbound train ran into the squad car carrying the suspect, leaving the Greely, Colorado resident in serious condition.
A video of the incident was released. It shows one officer yelling at another, “Drive your car,” before the other officer faces the car, turns to face the train, and then exits the tracks just before the locomotive smashes into the police patrol.
The TSA agent suffered nine broken ribs, a broken sternum, a broken arm, and many other injuries to her head, back, and legs. Although her injuries are serious, a report on Sunday September 18 said she was expected to live.
The young woman has now brought in a lawyer who said his client tried “desperately” to flee the vehicle.
“She was desperate to get out,” personal injury attorney Paul Wilkinson said in an interview with 9NEWS. “Of course the doors were locked.”
He continued, “She’s definitely upset about what happened. She doesn’t understand why she was left in the car. She screamed to get their attention and could see the train coming.”
Law and Crime reports that Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer did not reveal the officer’s name or any other information about the collision, but said he was placed on paid leave.
“The City of Platteville continues to work with the CBI and CSP during their investigation into this incident,” he told FOX 31.
911 calls help determine what led to Rios-Gonzalez being placed on the patrol.
The person who initiated the call claimed a woman in a silver Toyota Tundra truck “pulled a gun on the caller” during a tailgating incident.
Three agencies (FLPD, Weld County Sheriff Officer, and PPD) searched for the silver truck, with the latter first locating a vehicle matching the description.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said in a statement, “The driver of the vehicle pulled up just past the railroad tracks, with the patrolman behind the car on the tracks.”
It went on to say, “Two Ft. Lupton officers arrived at the scene and the team conducted a high-risk traffic stop and arrested a lone female inmate (age 20, Greeley) who placed her in the back of the Platteville squad car, which was being arrested on suspicion of a threatening crime.
“While officers were clearing the suspect vehicle as part of the investigation, a northbound train collided with the PPD patrol car,” it said.
The CBI also said officers performed life-saving procedures on Rios-Gonzales after the crash before she was taken to the hospital.
The chatter, recorded on the radio recording secured by KUSA, suggests officers at the scene held Rios-Gonzalez “at gunpoint.” But that was not revealed in the CBI report.
The radio conversation also captures the hectic moments after the accident.
An officer from Ft. Lupton says, “Dispatch, Lupton 346: Patrol car just got hit by a train.”
“Dispatch, Lupton 346: get an ambulance [sic]’ the policeman continued. “The suspect was in the vehicle hit by the train.”
“Copy,” the dispatcher replied.
The officer whose car was hit said, “Just a note… we can’t open the unit doors and the female passenger is in my unit.”
The investigation into this incident is taking a two-pronged approach.
The CBI has launched an investigation into Rios-Gonzalez. The Fort Lupton Police Department is investigating the initial 911 call that prompted a search for the truck. Finally, the Colorado State Patrol is investigating the “traffic accident with serious injuries” caused by the train ramming into the car.
Ed Obayashi, a California sheriff’s deputy who specializes in police tactics, said he couldn’t ” fathom ” why the officer would park his squad car on the tracks and believed the negligence would expose the department to a civil lawsuit.
“I don’t understand why he left his vehicle on the tracks with the subject inside. Why didn’t you take the vehicle off the tracks? That’s going to be the biggest question,” he said.
“Those in your custody,” the expert continued. “You’ve arrested them or they’re in the back of your squad car, you have a duty of care on this issue,” the expert noted. “In other words, since you have taken control, physical control over them and their movements, you are, by definition, responsible for protecting them in any situation.”
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/09/24/frantically-trying-to-get-out-colorado-officer-placed-on-leave-after-20-year-old-woman-was-hit-by-a-freight-train-while-she-was-handcuffed-in-his-patrol-car-parked-on-tracks/ A Colorado police officer has been furloughed after a 20-year-old woman was struck by a freight train while handcuffed in his squad car parked on tracks