Officer who put 20-year-old in patrol car hit by train pleads not guilty

A Colorado police officer accused of putting a handcuffed woman in a parked police car that was hit by a freight train pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

Jordan Steinke's lawyer entered the plea on her behalf during a brief court hearing that came a week after prosecutors dropped the most serious charge she had faced — second-degree felony assault. She is still charged with felony attempted reckless manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless endangerment in the Sept. 16 collision that seriously injured Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, 21.

The collision occurred after multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a report of a road rage incident in Fort Lupton, Colorado. A Platteville, Colorado police officer stopped Rios’ car just past a set of railroad tracks and parked the patrol vehicle on the tracks. Steinke, who was working for the Fort Lupton Police Department, is accused of putting Rios-Gonzalez in the back of the car belonging to the Platteville officer, who is charged with five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

Rios-Gonzalez has filed a lawsuit accusing officers of acting recklessly and failing in their duty to take care of her while she was in their custody. In the lawsuit, Rios-Gonzalez alleges the train tracks were “plainly visible” to Steinke when she put Rios in the back seat of the patrol car.