Shocking Video: Judge Sentences Former Colorado Cop Who Left Handcuffed Suspect In Patrol Car on Tracks to be Hit By Train to Probation Because of Her ‘Grace and Compassion’

Former Fort Lupton, Colorado, police Officer Jordan Steinke, convicted of two misdemeanor charges for leaving a handcuffed suspect on train tracks before a collision, has received her sentence.

On Friday, Sept. 15, Judge Timothy Kerns of Colorado’s 19th Judicial District sentenced Steinke to 30 months of supervised probation and 100 hours of public service after convicting her of reckless endangerment and assault.

During Steinke’s five-day bench trial in July, the court heard testimony about how Steinke, 29, handcuffed Yareni Rios-Gonzalez after another officer, Platteville Sgt. Pablo Vazquez stopped Rios-Gonzalez on suspicion of brandishing a gun at another motorist in a fit of road rage.

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)

Kerns acquitted Steinke of a criminal attempt to commit manslaughter.

Police bodycam footage shows Steinke placing the suspect in Vazquez’s patrol vehicle on train tracks and leaving to search the suspect’s car with the sergeant.

Related: ‘Give Me a Second Chance’: Florida Cops Arrested 6-Year-Old Black Girl Who Allegedly Had a Tantrum In Class Due to Sleep Apnea; Now Face Lawsuit

As they were distracted by their search, the freight train was bearing down on the rail crossing.  Dashcam footage from another police patrol vehicle shows the train colliding with the patrol car and Rios-Gonzalez before either officer could reach it.

Steinke can be heard screaming, “Oh, s##t!” as the train neared.


Kerns cited the “compassion and grace” of victim Rios-Gonzalez for the lenient sentence because he originally was considering jail time.

“When I came out here, I was contemplating a form of incarceration that would send a message to law enforcement that in all circumstances you are accountable,” the Weld County District Court judge said, according to 9 News.“Ms. Rios-Gonzalez has shown that compassion and grace should win out.”

Part of Kerns’ hesitation was because it might send mixed messages to the public.

“Someone is going to hear this and say: ‘Another officer gets off,’ That’s not the facts of this case,” Kerns said, according to CBS News.

The judge said if she violated the terms of the probation, she would be thrown behind bars.

“I will harken back to my original gut response as to how to address sentencing,” Kearns said.

Steinke was given an opportunity to express how she felt about her actions, which led her to be fired from the Fort Lupton Police Department after her conviction.

“As a police officer, I never intended for another human to come to harm under my watch. I feel very much responsible for what happened to you [Rios] that night,” Steinke said during her sentencing hearing before expressing that she was sorry for her decision.

“I understand, recognize, and empathize that Ms. Rios and her family have endured a great deal of physical, emotional, and psychological pain,” Steinke said.

Steinke said that the night has “haunted” her.

She said to the victim, “I remember your cries and your screams.”

As a result of her conviction, Steinke will never be able to serve as a peace officer again.

Rios initially faced a felony menacing charge for the road rage but pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor in June, receiving a one-year deferred sentence and 10 hours of community service.

She has since filed a civil lawsuit against the officers and their former departments.

Despite surviving the train crash, which broke several of her bones and caused her severe brain injury, Rios-Gonzales said she feels sorry for the woman.

“She has communicated to me multiple times she feels very sorry for Ms. Steinke. She feels for the situation from her perspective,” said her attorney.

The next court date connected to this case looks at Vazquez’s role in the case and is scheduled for December. Vazquez’s record will come into play. His colleagues have painted him as “incompetent” with “a dangerous lack of radio awareness.”

Back to top