Video released by Colorado authorities on Friday shows the moment on Sept. 16 when a freight train smashed into a patrol car in which a handcuffed woman was sitting, as the vehicle straddled the railroad tracks following her arrest.
The woman, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, of Greeley, Colo., was seriously injured and continued to be treated at a hospital, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which was investigating. She was in a Platteville Police Department patrol car when the collision took place; Fort Lupton Police had also responded to the scene and participated in the arrest.
Paul Wilkinson, the lawyer for Ms. Rios-Gonzalez, told The Denver Post that the impact left her with nine broken ribs, a fractured sternum and back and head injuries. She also needed surgery for a broken arm, according to the newspaper.
“She saw it coming and could hear the horn,” Mr. Wilkinson told The Denver Post. “She was trying to get the police officers’ attention, screaming at them. She tried unlocking the door. She had her hands behind her back and was frantically trying to unlock the door.”
Mr. Wilkinson said he struggled to understand why police officers had parked their car on railroad tracks and why they hadn’t moved it when Ms. Rios-Gonzalez was placed inside. Mr. Wilkinson did not immediately respond to an interview request on Sunday afternoon.
The authorities said that the Fort Lupton Police Department and the Platteville Police Department were responding to a reported road rage incident involving a gun along U.S. 85 in Fort Lupton, Colo., around 7:30 p.m. Mountain time on Sept. 16.
Fort Lupton Police said in a statement that officers assisted in stopping the woman in a “high-risk” traffic stop and placed her into a Platteville police car. Then, “within a matter of seconds,” the authorities said, the patrol car was struck by a train.
More details about the arrest and the train collision are revealed in nearly eight minutes of police body camera and dashcam video, which was obtained by The Denver Post through a records request.
Officers are heard on the footage shouting commands at Ms. Rios-Gonzalez to put her hands up and get out of her car. As Ms. Rios-Gonzalez complied, officers approached her with at least one gun drawn and placed her into handcuffs.
Ms. Rios-Gonzalez repeatedly asked officers why she was being arrested.
“What’s going on,” she could be heard saying. “Ma’am, what’s going on?”
The officer said that she would tell Ms. Rios-Gonzalez “in a second” and placed her in the back seat of the patrol car. The video shows officers checking to see if anyone else was in Ms. Rios-Gonzalez’s car before searching it for a weapon.
As officers speculated whether Ms. Rios-Gonzalez could have thrown a gun out the window, a train horn could be heard in the distance. One officer standing by the patrol car where Ms. Rios-Gonzalez was sitting backed away, and another officer could be heard yelling, “Stay back!”
Some time later, an officer shouted an expletive and said “Oh my God” repeatedly.
“A patrol car was just hit by a train,” the police officer said into a radio.
After the collision, the officers searched for the car that had been catapulted by the impact; the video shows the vehicle mangled, with its doors bent and crushed.
Officers later found a gun in the center console of the car that Ms. Rios-Gonzalez was driving after having also retrieved a bullet and a holster from the vehicle, according to the video.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating the incident leading to the crash, while the Fort Lupton Police Department was handling the criminal investigation against the woman. The Colorado State Patrol was investigating the traffic accident between the train and the patrol vehicle, the bureau said.
The Fort Lupton Police Department said it was seeking an arrest warrant through the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“While specific details cannot be provided, C.B.I. agents are actively investigating its portion of the case through interviews and a comprehensive review of evidentiary material from the scene,” the agency said in a statement.
Fort Lupton police said that the agency requested that the bureau investigate the matter as is “standard in any incident where an in-custody person suffers serious injury.” The department said it was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
The Platteville Police Department said it was also working with investigators.
“Due to several ongoing investigations by outside agencies, the Town of Platteville will not be commenting further on this unfortunate incident,” the police agency said in a statement. “The Town is fully cooperating with all relevant investigations and will await findings on the specific involvement of its employee in this matter.”
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