Newly released video shows the moment a train smashes into a police car that was parked on railroad tracks with a handcuffed woman in the backseat.
The 20-year-old woman, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, was seriously injured in the Sept. 16 collision. Her attorney, Jonathan Stine, said in an interview Monday that the impact caused her to lose teeth and left her with a broken arm, multiple fractured ribs and injuries to her head and legs. She remained hospitalized Monday, he said.
Rios-Gonzalez was under arrest in a road rage incident and in a Platteville Police Department patrol car when the collision took place. Two Fort Lupton police officers had also responded to the scene and assisted in stopping Rios-Gonzalez in what the department and Colorado Bureau of Investigation have described as a “high-risk vehicle stop.”
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has said the officers were responding to an alleged road rage incident involving a gun along U.S. 85 and County Road 38, just north of Platteville, near Denver. Rios-Gonzalez, a Greeley resident, was detained on suspicion of felony menacing and placed in the back of a Platteville patrol car that was parked on train tracks as the officers searched her car.
“Within a matter of seconds,” the Fort Lupton Police Department said, the patrol car was struck by a northbound train.
On Friday, the department released eight minutes of edited video from police body cameras and dash-cam to multiple news outlets, including NBC News affiliate KUSA in Colorado, in response to a record request.
Officers can be heard on the video shouting commands at Rios-Gonzalez, including to put her phone down and put her hands out of the window of the pick-up truck she was in, as at least one gun is pointed at her. Rios-Gonzalez complies and asks the officers what is going on and whether she can please get her cellphone. She also asks a female officer who handcuffs her where she is being taken. The officer responds that she will “explain everything in a second” and says: “We’re taking you to the car. Come on.” Rios-Gonzalez again asks for her cellphone and the female officer tells her, “We’ll get your cellphone in a second.”
Another officer asks Rios-Gonzalez, “Who else is in the truck?” to which she replies: “No one else is in the truck, sir. Can I please get my cellphone?” A male officer tells her not to worry about her cellphone. The female officer can be heard asking Rios-Gonzalez whether there are any weapons in her vehicle and she says, “No, ma’am.” Rios-Gonzalez continues to question what is going on, adding, “I’m so confused.”
The video shows officers then searching the pickup truck to see if anyone else was in it before searching for a weapon.
As the officers searching the truck discussed whether Rios-Gonzalez might have tossed a gun out a window before she pulled over, a train horn could be heard in the distance. One officer shouted an expletive and said, “Oh my God” multiple times. Another officer could be heard yelling, “Stay back!” An officer standing by the patrol car that Rios-Gonzalez was in ran before it was struck by the train.
The video shows the train slam into the patrol car while its front passenger-side door was still open.
“A patrol car was just hit by a train,” an officer says into a radio. “Get us medical, emergent. The suspect was in the vehicle that was hit by the train.”
The video captured the mangled patrol car and concludes with Weld County sheriff’s officers finding a gun in the center console of the car that Rios-Gonzalez was driving, as well as a bullet and a holster from the vehicle.
The names of the officers involved have not been released. Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer previously told NBC News that the officer involved from his department has been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is completed.
In response to an inquiry about whether the actions of its officers at the scene were being investigated or whether they had been placed on administrative leave, a police records supervisor from the Fort Lupton Police Department, which is handling the criminal investigation into the initial road rage report, said Monday: “This incident is under investigation. We do not have any officers on leave.”
The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the crash. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating the injuries Rios-Gonzalez sustained while she was in police custody.
Krista Henery, a spokesperson for the Weld County district attorney’s office, said Monday, “At this point everything is still under investigation.” Henery said no charges had been filed against Rios-Gonzalez or any of the responding officers.
Stine, Rios-Gonzalez’s attorney, who said he plans to sue on her behalf, described the officers’ actions as “unspeakably negligent.”
“It’s potentially criminal and beyond my comprehension how this could happen the way that it happened,” he said. “It’s indescribable. You cannot describe it unless you actually see it — how irresponsible this was.”
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