Colorado Woman Handcuffed in Police Car Strikes $8.5 MILLION SETTLEMENT After Train Collision


A Colorado woman who was critically injured when a freight train collided with the parked police vehicle in which she was handcuffed has struck a $8.5 million settlement, according to a lawyer for two of the officers involved on Wednesday.

The city of Fort Lupton and the adjoining town of Platteville, which jointly hired the three cops involved in the 2022 crash, will each pay half of the settlement to Yareni Rios, according to attorney Eric Ziporin.

Ziporin represents two Fort Lupton policemen at the time: Jordan Steinke and Ryan Thomeczek. He denied additional comment on the accord. Fort Lupton Police Chief William Carnes said in a statement on Tuesday that the settlement was reached to “the mutual satisfaction of the parties, recognizes the gravity of this matter, and allows all parties to move forward.”

Former Platteville police sergeant Pablo Vazquez was also sued. On Wednesday, the Associated Press sent an email to his attorneys asking comment.

Steinke and Vazquez were both sentenced to probation in connection with the collision, although Thomeczek was not charged.

Rios, then 20, was pulled over by Vazquez on September 16, 2022, following a driving rage incident that police described as “menacing with a handgun.” Shortly after, Steinke and Thomeczek arrived to assist, and Steinke loaded Rios into the back of Vazquez’ patrol car. Vazquez had parked on train lines, according to the lawsuit and testimony during Steinke’s trial last year.

Steinke said she had no idea where the automobile was parked, despite the fact that her body camera footage shows tracks and railroad crossing signs. She was found guilty of reckless endangerment and assault, sacked from her work, and sentenced to 2 1/2 years supervised probation.

In comments captured on body camera film, Vazquez told other police that he assumed he had cleared the tracks when he parked behind Rio. He stated that he was concentrating on her because he was frightened that she could have a weapon.

Vazquez pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangerment and received a year of unsupervised probation.

Rios shouted for help when she saw the train approaching, and despite the fact that a door in the police car had been left open, she was unable to escape from the caged-in rear seat, according to the lawsuit, which claimed she sustained serious injuries, including severe head trauma. The lawsuit accused officers of being careless and failed to protect Rios while she was in detention.

Rios pled no contest to misdemeanor menacing.

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