DENVER – A police officer in Colorado who arrested a woman who was seriously injured when the parked patrol car she was in was struck by a freight train said he did not realize he had stopped the vehicle on the railroad tracks, according to police body camera video.
In video obtained by KUSA-TV on Thursday, Platteville Sgt. Pablo Vazquez told another officer that he thought he had cleared the tracks when he stopped Yareni Rios-Gonzalez on Sept. 16 in a suspected road rage case involving a gun. He said he pulled up right behind her truck and was focused on her because he was concerned about weapons.
Vazquez also said he did not know another officer he was working with from a nearby department had put Rios-Gonzalez in Vasquez’s patrol vehicle until after it was hit by the train. He said the “saving grace” was that the other officer put Rios-Gonzalez on the side of the vehicle not usually used for people who are arrested.
Rios-Gonzalez’s injuries included nine broken ribs, a broken arm and a fractured sternum. Her lawyer, Paul Wilkinson, has said he plans to file a lawsuit against police.
Previously released video from Vazquez’s body camera show him and another officer searching Rios-Gonzalez’s truck as the train approaches and its horn is blaring. Vazquez asks the other officer several times over the sound of the train’s rumbling whether Rios-Gonzalez was in the patrol vehicle and she responds, one hand to her face, “Oh my God, yes, she was!”
Other police video shows officers scrambling as the train approaches and slams into the vehicle.