A high-speed locomotive slammed into a parked police cruiser with a handcuffed suspect in the back seat as at least one arresting officer ran for his life, according to disturbing video released Friday by Colorado police.
Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, was locked in the cruiser, which was parked on tracks north of Platteville, Colorado, on the evening of September 16. She could see and hear the freight train coming and was “frenziedly trying to get the officers’ attention”. said personal injury attorney Paul Wilkinson. Rios-Gonzalez tried to escape the car, but the doors were locked, Wilkinson said.
“She saw it all coming and believed it was the end,” he said.
Newly released body camera video shows officers handcuffing and putting Rios-Gonzalez in the back driver’s seat before searching his truck, which was parked just outside the train tracks. The sound of a blaring train horn can be heard moments before the northbound train rushes into the passenger side of the police car.
“Stay back!” an officer shouted, possibly to other officers at the scene, just before the impact. An officer can be seen quickly retreating from the stationed cruiser before it was hit.
The 8-minute video, which brings together footage from multiple angles and was edited and written by the Fort Lupton Police Department, was obtained by 9News and Wilkinson confirmed its authenticity to USA TODAY. It shows that Rios-Gonzalez was held in the car sitting on the train tracks for about two minutes before the crash.
In another clip posted by 9News, officers appeared not to immediately realize that Rios-Gonzalez was in the police cruiser when she was hit. A male officer asked a female officer seconds after impact, “Was she in there?”
“Oh my god, yes she was,” replied the female officer before running towards the wrecked cruiser.
“Oh f—,” the male officer said.
According to the Fort Lupton Police Department, officers responded to a report of a “threatening person with a handgun” on the highway. A Platteville police officer arrested Rios-Gonzalez, and Fort Lupton officers assisted in restraining her and searching her truck. Officers continue to search the truck after the crash and after Rios-Gonzalez was taken to an ambulance, the footage shows.
No charges were filed against Rios-Gonzalez in connection with his detention Friday afternoon, Wilkinson told USA TODAY.
She suffered a head injury, a broken arm, a broken sternum, nine broken ribs, knocked out teeth, and back and leg injuries, Wilkinson said. She is conscious, able to speak and was able to stand briefly. Her recovery will be long, Wilkinson said, but medical staff hope she can be discharged from hospital next week when she regains more mobility.
Wilkinson said he represents Rios-Gonzalez and will pursue legal action against the Platteville Police Department and the three officers who attended individually. He said the officers’ conduct rose to the level of reckless endangerment, a higher standard than negligence or gross negligence in Colorado law.
“Just parking on train tracks is something no one should ever do,” Wilkinson said, adding that Rios-Gonzalez’s safety was in the hands of police once they arrested her. .
Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer told USA TODAY via email earlier this week that the Platteville officer involved in the incident has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation. The Fort Lupton Police Department did not immediately respond to a request from USA TODAY. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating Rios-Gonzalez’s injuries while the Colorado State Patrol investigates the crash and the Fort Lupton Police Department investigates the incident and arrest suspected of road rage.
Contributor: Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY