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Ex-Colorado police officer who put handcuffed woman in car hit by train avoids jail

September 18, 2023
A moment before the woman handcuffed in police car got hit by a train
A moment before the woman handcuffed in police car got hit by a train

DENVER — An ex-police officer in the US state of Colorado — who locked a handcuffed woman in a police car that was then hit by a freight train — has avoided jail.

Jordan Steinke was sentenced to 30 months on supervised probation, after being found guilty of reckless endangerment and assault in July.

She was acquitted of criminal attempt to commit manslaughter.

The 29-year-old, who lost her job over the incident, has been ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

The woman who was placed in the car, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, suffered serious injuries in the crash, including a brain injury.

The incident happened in September 2022, when Steinke and another officer were investigating an alleged road rage incident involving a weapon in Weld County — about 72 miles (115km) from the state capital of Denver.

Ms Rios-Gonzalez was pulled over, taken into custody and moved into a police car that had been parked on train tracks.

The officers were searching her vehicle when a train struck the police car.

"What happened that night has haunted me for 364 days," Steinke said in an apology read out in the court during the sentencing.

"I remember your cries and your screams. I remember begging you to tell me your name. Praying that you would stay awake. I have never felt so helpless. We couldn't get you out of the car."

Steinke added that she hoped to give educational talks to police officers about the dangers of railway tracks.

According to the Denver Post, a lawyer for Ms Rios-Gonzalez told the court that while his client suffered from having her life so radically altered by the crash and felt angry, she also felt sorry Steinke had lost her career.

The judge, Timothy Kerns, said he had planned to send Steinke to prison as a lesson that police officers would be held responsible for misconduct.

However, he changed his mind when both the defense and prosecution asked for a probationary sentence.

The second now former officer involved in the incident, Pablo Vazquez, is due to go on trial later this year. — BBC


September 18, 2023
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