‘It Was a Horrific Accident’: Judge Finds Ex-Cop Guilty of Reckless Endangerment for Leaving Woman In Patrol Car on Train Tracks to be Hit By Freight Train

A former Fort Lupton police officer has been convicted by a judge of two out of the three charges brought against her. These charges stemmed from a botched arrest that resulted in a woman being handcuffed, placed in the back of an officer’s patrol car, and then hit by a freight train.

Judge Timothy Kerns found the ex-officer guilty of two misdemeanors, reckless endangerment and third-degree assault after a five-day trial, stating she ignored “what she consciously observed” and noting that the railroad tracks and signs on the highway were visible, ABC News reported.

Officer Left Suspect in Patrol Car on Train Tracks
A former Fort Lupton police officer has been convicted by a judge of two out of the three charges brought against her. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/CBS Colorado)

Although initially faced a felony charge of attempted reckless manslaughter, Steinke, who had waived her right to a jury trial, ultimately was acquitted on that particular count by Judge Kerns.

Lawyers for Yareni Rios-Gonzalez say their client’s life is forever changed because of the officers’ recklessness on Sept. 16, 2022.

Jordan Steinke was fired from the Fort Lupton Police Department following the conviction, according to CBS News.

The department she worked for issued a statement regarding her termination.

“Ms. Steinke’s employment with the Fort Lupton Police Department has been modified from unpaid administrative leave to terminated. Due to pending litigation, the Fort Lupton Police Department is unable to comment further about this matter,” Police Chief John Fryar said in a press release. 

Video footage used in the case, which was previously released to the public, showed Steinke handcuffed Rios-Gonzalez under suspicion of involvement in a road rage case and placed her into her patrol car.

In the video, the 21-year-old can be heard questioning the officer about where she was going, to which Steinke responds that she is taking her to one of the patrol cars, which was parked on an active train track.

The officer then left Rios-Gonzalez alone in the police cruiser while she conducted a search of the suspect’s vehicle. During this time, the officers and the victim heard the loud sound of an approaching freight train. Before Steinke or the Platteville police officer, Sgt. Pablo Vazquez, who was also investigating the road rage incident, could react to the train colliding with the car containing Rios-Gonzalez.

This collision was captured by the officer’s bodycam and the dashcam on Steinke’s car.

“At the time she elected to place Yareni Rios-Gonzalez in the Platteville patrol car parked on the railroad tracks instead of her own patrol unit that was safely parked to the west of the railroad tracks,” Weld County Deputy District Attorney Lacy Vells said in court.

Vazquez is also facing eight misdemeanor charges in the case. It was his police vehicle that was parked on the railroad tracks. He has also been terminated and is awaiting his criminal case.

The young mother suffered a fractured tibia, broken arm, nine broken ribs, and a fractured sternum in the incident. She allegedly suffered a traumatic brain injury. With her lawyers, she has filed civil lawsuits against the officers.

The ex-cops’ defense attorney Mallory Revel said, “Officer Steinke was not trying to harm Miss Rios-Gonzalez.”

Revel added, “This accident has haunted Officer Steinke every single day since it occurred. It was a horrific accident.”

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