Traffic Stop Goes Horribly Wrong
(CO) – It started as a road rage call to the Fort Lupton Police Department. A woman had waved a gun at another vehicle, which is considered felony menacing. The description of the car was put out and various agencies were keeping an eye out for the vehicle.
A Platteville police officer spotted the car and pulled it over. The woman stopped her vehicle just past some railroad tracks. The Platteville officer pulled in behind her, parking on the tracks. A gun was involved making it a high-risk traffic stop. The Platteville officer was joined by two Ft. Lupton officers. The woman was taken into custody and placed in the back of the Platteville police car. It hasn’t been mentioned, but she was probably handcuffed.
A train struck and crushed the Platteville police car while the three police officers were searching the woman’s vehicle. 20-year old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez was taken to the hospital with serious bodily injury. She is expected to live.
NOTE: The Platteville police officer parked his vehicle on the tracks, but a Fort Lupton police officer put the woman in the Platteville police officer’s car. The Fort Lupton police officer is just as culpable as the Platteville police officer.
Multiple Investigations Begin
Authorities are splitting up this investigation because of the various elements involved, the CBI said. Fort Lupton police are looking into the incidents leading up to the initial call to cops. The Colorado State Patrol is handling the “serious-injury traffic accident” of the train and Platteville police patrol vehicle.
“The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has been requested to investigate the serious bodily injury to the individual while in police custody,” the CBI said.
Traffic Accident or Criminal Negligence?
One vehicle hit another vehicle making at least that part of the incident a traffic accident. The more important part of the incident is being handled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). An individual was in complete control and custody of the Platteville police officer. That means he had a certain amount of duty of care. He had a responsibility to protect her since she was no longer free to protect herself.
Police officers have to maintain situational awareness at all times. It’s part of their training. The officer had to have known he was parked on the train tracks. I can’t imagine him being so oblivious to his surroundings that he didn’t know. His police training should have let him know that was a poor decision. But it’s even more basic than that. Everyone is taught the hazards of railroad tracks when they learn to drive. It’s part of driver’s education.
I don’t see how the carelessness of the officer can be anything less than criminal negligence. Learning to drive taught him the dangers of railroad tracks. His police training taught him to always be aware of his surroundings. His police training also taught him that he was responsible for the safety of those in his custody. Yet he left a woman helpless and trapped in his police vehicle, with a train bearing down on her, until it eventually crushed her. That deserves criminal charges.
Police Chief Not Releasing Name of Officer
The Platteville police chief, Carl Dwyer, is not releasing the name of the officer who left the woman in the police vehicle. He did say that the police officer involved has been placed on administrative leave. What we don’t need him to tell us is that the city will be facing a massive civil lawsuit due to the officer’s negligence. A civil lawsuit that the city will surely lose.