Ex-cop in Colorado only gets PROBATION for placing handcuffed female road rage suspect in police cruiser moments before a train slammed into the car

A former Colorado police officer who put a handcuffed woman into a parked police car that was hit by a freight train, leaving the woman with serious brain injuries, has avoided jail time and will instead serve 30 months of probation.

Jordan Steinke, 29, was sentenced Friday by Weld County District Court Judge Timothy Kerns, who found her guilty of reckless endangerment and assault for the Sept. 16, 2022, crash near Platteville. Kerns acquitted the former Fort Lupton police officer of attempted manslaughter after her trial in July.

Steinke, who cried during the sentencing hearing, apologized to victim Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, who attended the hearing virtually. In addition to her brain injury, Rios-Gonzalez also suffered broken ribs, wrists, a punctured lung and a traumatic brain injury.

Kerns said he intended to sentence Steinke to prison, but he changed his mind after both prosecutors and defense attorneys requested probation. The Denver Post reported.

“Someone is going to hear this and say, ‘Another cop is getting out,'” Kerns said. “Those are not the facts of this case.”

A female suspect, believed to be involved in a road rage incident, was arrested by police in Colorado

Officers stopped their car on the railroad tracks and ordered Rios-Gonzalez to walk toward them

Officers stopped their car on the tracks and ordered the female suspect to back away

Officers then handcuffed her and placed her in the back of the car.  Her lawyer said officers did not respond to their cries for help when they got out of the vehicle as the train approached

Officers handcuffed 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez and placed her in the back of the car

He ordered Steinke to perform 100 hours of community service. And if she violates the terms of her probation, “I will go back to my original gut feeling about how to approach the sentencing,” Kerns warned.

“What happened that night has haunted me for 364 days,” Steinke said. “I remember your screams and your screams. I remember begging you to tell me your name. I’ve never felt so helpless that we couldn’t get you out of the car.’

Steinke said she hoped to fulfill some of her community service by giving educational lectures to new police officers about the dangers of railroad tracks and the importance of officers being aware of their surroundings.

The former officer’s attorney said Steinke underwent therapy after the incident.

“The horror of what I saw and what you experienced never leaves me,” Steinke told Rios-Gonzalez.

“Please don’t use this experience to hate other police officers. You can blame me, and you should. “I want to make it very clear to this court, Ms. Rios, her family and everyone watching: I will make something good out of this, I will train current and future police officers and anyone who will listen,” she added.

Then-Plateville Police Sgt. Pablo Vazquez had stopped Rios-Gonzalez after a reported traffic accident involving a firearm. Steinke took her into custody and locked her in Vazquez’s police car, which was parked on the railroad tracks. A train crashed into the SUV.

Officer Jordan Stienke will have to perform 100 hours of community service as a result of the incident

Officer Jordan Stienke will have to perform 100 hours of community service as a result of the incident

Sergeant Pablo Vazquez had arrested Rios-Gonzalez in connection with a road rage incident

Sergeant Pablo Vazquez had arrested Rios-Gonzalez in connection with a road rage incident

Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 20, was hit by a train while sitting in the back of a police patrol car, but she will still face charges for the alleged road rage incident for which she was pulled over

20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez is lucky to be alive after being hit by a train while sitting in the back of a police patrol car

Rios-Gonzalez, who suffered a permanent brain injury and is in pain, was conflicted about how she wanted Steinke to be punished, attorney Chris Ponce said.

“The conflict she feels is one where she has to feel this pain every day,” Ponce said. “And she’s had to deal with (doctor’s) appointments and her life has changed so radically. And I’m upset about that, very upset about that – angry about that – but on the other hand, feeling for Ms. Steinke, and, I think, really empathetically sorry for the way she lost her career.”

Steinke was fired from the Fort Lupton Police Department after her conviction. She is expected to lose her Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, her attorney Mallory Revel said, meaning she can never be a police officer again.

During Steinke’s trial, her attorneys said she was unaware Vazquez had parked his police vehicle on the tracks.

Vazquez is still on trial for his role in the crash. He has been charged with five counts of reckless endangerment for allegedly endangering Rios-Gonzalez, Steinke and three other people, and for traffic-related violations, including parking where prohibited.

Rios-Gonzalez has also filed a lawsuit against the police departments involved.