A police cruiser with a handcuffed woman in it was hit by a train in Platteville, Colorado on September 16.
Officers from Fort Lupton Police Department and the Platteville Police Department pulled 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez over on a rural stretch of road that Friday night. According to 9News Denver reporter Jeremy Jojola, "police were responding to a 911 call about road rage with a gun."
Rios-Gonzalez was being detained in a Platteville police SUV when the train struck the vehicle.
Police cuffed Rios-Gonzalez and placed her in the Platteville cruiser, which was parked on the railroad tracks several yards behind her truck.
Responding officers then went to check her vehicle for more passengers and search for any weapons.
In newly released bodycam footage from the incident, the distant train horn can be heard just over a minute after Rios-Gonzalez was placed in the cruiser. Within the next few seconds, the train driver began to frantically sound the horn trying to get the police vehicle to move.
Officers finally expressed alarm as they realized the cruiser was going to be hit, but decided they were too far away to remove Rios-Gonzalez from the vehicle in time and instead stood back at a safe distance as the cruiser was struck.
The train hit the cruiser at a high rate of speed, crushing the passenger side of the vehicle and pushing it dozens of feet into a field with Rios-Gonzalez still handcuffed and trapped inside.
Fort Lupton Police Department
The audio from the bodycam footage recorded police calling for medical assistance for Rios-Gonzalez.
Rios-Gonzalez remained hospitalized for several days but was expected to survive. Jojola—a 9 News investigative journalist—reported Monday night Rios-Gonzalez was released from the hospital but remains bedridden.
You can see excerpts of the recently released police bodycam footage in coverage from 9News affiliate KMGH News here:
police bodycam shows train hitting police cruiser with suspect insideyoutu.be
Paul Wilkinson—the attorney representing Rios-Gonzalez—told CNN his client realized the train was coming before officers did.
She was desperate to get out of the vehicle but was unable to do so.
He said she both attempted to escape on her own and to alert the officers of the approaching train.
"When she was in the back of the car, she was able to see the train coming. She was frantically trying to escape, trying to open the doors, but she was handcuffed."
"She was trying to get their attention. She was yelling. She was trying to escape."
Wilkinson said Rios-Gonzalez was awake and able to hold a conversation, but remained hospitalized at that time.
"I don’t know if they just couldn’t hear her or if they were too busy searching her car, but she saw it coming and prepared for the worst. And as you can imagine, lost consciousness and woke up at the hospital. She’s obviously very upset."
"She has a broken arm that she has had surgery on, nine broken ribs, a fractured sternum, broken teeth, injuries to her leg, back and head."
He questioned how officers could have not noticed the train coming.
"The most alarming thing for me is that you can hear the train coming. And it’s at nighttime, and the train has lights also, so you can both hear and see the train coming."
Many online called for the officers involved to face real consequences for their choices and actions, especially for parking on the tracks in the first place.
Many questioned why the officer parked the cruiser on the tracks in the first place.
Some assumed malicious intent and racial bias.
A lot of people were upset the officer is on paid leave during the investigation.
Neither department has disclosed the identity of the officers involved in the incident.
The officer from Platteville Police Department was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation, according to Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer.
No charges have yet been filed against Rios-Gonzalez or either officer.
According to a representative of the Weld County District Attorney:
"Everything is still being investigated and no charges have been filed for the suspect/victim or any officers."