DENVER – A Platteville police officer claims in newly release body camera video he was unaware there was a handcuffed woman in the backseat of his patrol cruiser when an incoming train collided with the vehicle last month.
The series of bodycam videos, the latest to be released in the Sept. 16 incident, shows a male officer, referred to as “Vasquez,” walking up to his patrol car moments after the crash as Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, of Greeley, is trapped inside.
The first of three bodycam videos, first released Thursday to The Denver Gazette before they were obtained by Denver7 through an open records request, shows Vasquez telling a supervisor he didn’t realize how close he was to the train tracks.
“OK, so, I had mishap here. My car got hit by a train. The worst part about it is that I had a prisoner inside,” Vasquez is heard telling his supervisor.
The officer is then heard saying moments later he thought he cleared the train tracks “but apparently not ‘cause the train hit my car,” spinning it a “good 60 yards.”
A second bodycam video of the aftermath of the crash shows the officer in distress as he talks with a deputy who asks him if he’s doing OK.
“[I’m] just ah… concerned for her, ya know?” the officer referred to as Vasquez tells the deputy. “I need some fresh air. My stomach is sick.”
The third and final bodycam video obtained by Denver7 Friday shows officers flagging the freight train operator, who tells the officer the train was going 46 miles an hour with 11,000 tons of cargo at the time the train collided with the patrol car.
“We’ve seen the lights when they were coming up, so we thought they were on the road until we turned the corner and then our lights hit you… hit the cars,” the conductor is heard telling one of the officers responding to the scene.
Vasquez is then heard saying an officer alerted them a train was coming, and acknowledged he heard the train’s horn blaring moments before the crash occurred.
The officer then says he didn’t think a female Ft. Lupton police officer, who assisted in the woman’s arrest that night, was going to put Rios-Gonzalez into his patrol car. “I just didn’t, and she did. She put her in my car.”
The following conversation then takes place:
“So she put her in your car?”
“I didn’t know she was in my car because I remember when the train hit, I said, ‘Was she in my car?’ and she said, ‘Oh my gosh, she was.’ So I didn’t know she was in my car.”
Paul Wilkinson, the woman’s personal injury attorney, however, told Denver7 on Sept. 23 that his client saw the train from a good distance off and was yelling at the officers and trying to get their attention before the train hit the car.
How the woman’s arrest unfolded
Rios-Gonzalez was pulled over on the other side of the train tracks just a few dozen feet down CR 36 from U.S. 85 at around 7:49 p.m. after she was reportedly involved in a road rage incident involving a firearm in Fort Lupton earlier that night.
Vasquez is seen in previously released video stopping his cruiser directly on the train tracks and a female Fort Lupton stopping her cruiser behind his.
The female officer goes to the passenger side of Vasquez’s cruiser with her gun drawn and pointed at the pickup truck. The other officer gets on a loudspeaker and tells Rios-Gonzalez he wants to see her hands.
They tell her to put her phone down and put both hands out of the window.
The female officer goes around to the left side and stands behind Vasquez. Rios-Gonzalez is out of the truck with her hands up. She complies with officers’ orders to keep walking backward to them with her hands in the air, then gets on her knees as ordered and is handcuffed by the female officer.
Rios-Gonzalez asks, “What’s going on? Why am I being arrested?” and asks where she is going. The officer tells her she is going to the car. Rios-Gonzalez tells the officers there are no weapons in the car and keeps asking what’s going on. She is put into the police cruiser that is directly over the tracks. The body camera video shows the time as 7:52:44 p.m.
The video then cuts to another officer or deputy who is armed with a rifle and clearing the pickup truck. Officers with the Fort Lupton Police Department assisted with the arrest. The officer or deputy tells dispatch the vehicle is clear.
As officers are looking through the vehicle, they find a holster, and one officer says multiple times that it took Rios-Gonzalez a very long time to pull over as they speculate whether Rios-Gonzalez tossed a weapon out of the truck.
At 7:53:53 p.m., officers start to hear a train horn in the background, and the female officer turns around to see train lights, yells an expletive, then the Union Pacific train hits the cruiser.
Rios-Gonzalez is out of the hospital and is slowly recuperating after undergoing surgery for a broken arm, and sustaining injuries to nine broken ribs, her sternum, teeth, leg, back and head.
Wilkinson told Denver7 Friday her family plans to sue the Platteville and Fort Lupton police departments for several claims, including negligence and civil rights violations.