Former Colorado officer avoids jail for putting handcuffed woman in police vehicle that was hit by train

12:26 18.09.2023

In a shocking incident that took place in 2022, former Colorado police officer Jordan Steinke has been sentenced to serve 30 months on supervised probation for an incident that resulted in serious injuries to a handcuffed woman. The incident occurred near Platteville, Colorado when Steinke placed the woman in a parked police vehicle that was later hit by a freight train. Despite the severity of the crash, Steinke managed to avoid a jail sentence and instead must serve probation.

The sentencing, which took place in Weld County District Court, was overseen by Judge Timothy Kerns. In July, Steinke was found guilty of reckless endangerment and assault for her role in the incident. However, she was acquitted of the criminal attempt to commit manslaughter charge. Judge Kerns initially intended to send Steinke to jail but ultimately decided on a probationary sentence after both the prosecution and defense sought this outcome. Along with the probation, Steinke was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

During the hearing, Steinke expressed remorse for her actions and apologized to the victim, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, who attended the hearing virtually. She admitted that the events of that night had haunted her for nearly a year and vividly remembered the cries and screams of Rios-Gonzalez. Steinke also shared her hope to fulfill her community service by giving educational talks to new police officers about the dangers of railroad tracks and the importance of officers being aware of their surroundings.

Rios-Gonzalez, who suffered a lasting brain injury and continues to experience pain, was conflicted about how she wanted Steinke to be punished. Her attorney, Chris Ponce, explained that while she felt anger and upset about the life-changing consequences she had to endure, she also empathized with Steinke and felt sorry for how she lost her career. This conflict within Rios-Gonzalez highlighted the lasting impact the incident had on both her and the former officer involved.

Steinke's defense attorneys argued during the trial that she was unaware of the fact that the police vehicle had been parked on the railroad tracks by then-Plateville Police Sgt. Pablo Vazquez. Vazquez, who has been labeled as incompetent by colleagues, is still awaiting trial for his role in the crash. He has been charged with five counts of reckless endangerment and faces traffic-related violations, including parking where prohibited.

The incident, which was captured on dramatic video footage, showed police officers conversing with the woman just moments before the train collided with the vehicle. The impact caused significant damage, and police officers immediately rushed towards the scene, requesting immediate medical assistance.

Steinke's conviction led to her termination from the Fort Lupton police department, and she is expected to lose her Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, effectively barring her from ever becoming a police officer again. Meanwhile, Rios-Gonzalez has filed a lawsuit against the police agencies involved, seeking accountability for the traumatic injuries she sustained.

The sentencing of Jordan Steinke has sparked controversy and debate, with some criticizing the decision as another instance of an officer avoiding severe punishment. However, Judge Kerns emphasized that the facts of the case did not support such claims. He warned Steinke that any violations of her probation would result in severe consequences, hinting at his original inclination to impose a harsher sentence.

The incident serves as a chilling reminder of the dangers officers face and the importance of maintaining awareness of their surroundings. The hope is that this tragic event will lead to increased training and awareness within law enforcement agencies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 12:26 PM /

themes:  Colorado

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