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Woman Handcuffed In Police Car Hit By Train Gets $8.5 Million Settlement 

A Colorado woman, Yareni Rios, has reached an $8.5 million settlement after being seriously injured when a freight train hit the parked police vehicle in which she was handcuffed. The settlement, split between the city of Fort Lupton and the town of Platteville, follows a 2022 incident involving three police officers. Fort Lupton officers Jordan Steinke and Ryan Thomeczek, along with Platteville police Sgt. Pablo Vazquez was sued for their role in the crash.

On September 16, 2022, Rios was pulled over by Vazquez after a road rage incident involving a handgun. She was subsequently placed in the back of Vazquez's patrol car, which was parked on railroad tracks. Despite the visible tracks and railroad crossing signs, Steinke testified she was unaware of the car's location. Body camera footage showed the tracks were visible, but Steinke claimed she didn't notice them. Steinke was found guilty of reckless endangerment and assault, fired from her job, and sentenced to 2.5 years of supervised probation. Vazquez, who thought he had cleared the tracks, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and received a year of unsupervised probation. Thomeczek was not charged.

Rios screamed for help as the train approached but was unable to escape the caged back seat. She suffered severe head trauma and other injuries. The lawsuit accused the police of recklessness and failing to protect Rios while in custody. Rios, who was 20 at the time, pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor menacing.

The $8.5 million settlement for Yareni Rios, who was seriously injured when a train hit a police car she was handcuffed in, reveals the dire consequences of police negligence. This incident highlights a profound failure in duty of care, where officers' reckless actions led to severe and preventable harm. This settlement, while significant, cannot erase the trauma and injuries she endured.

Link: AP News


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