Probation given to officer who placed a handcuffed woman in a police car that was hit by train

Updated 6:37 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2023.

Former Fort Lupton police officer Jordan Steinke will not serve jail time after a judge sentenced her to 30 months supervised probation Friday.

Steinke, 29, had been convicted of reckless endangerment and assault, both misdemeanors, after placing a handcuffed 20-year-old woman inside a Platteville police car that had been parked on train tracks in last year. The car was then struck by a freight train.

The victim, Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, was severely injured but survived. She suffered several broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. Her attorney said the crash left Rios-Gonzalez with amnesia, and that she has no memory of what occurred prior to being hit.

Steinke was also charged with attempted manslaughter, a felony, but was acquitted.

Steinke was one of two officers charged in the Sept. 16, 2022 incident.

Former Platteville police officer Pablo Vazquez had pulled over Yareni Rios-Gonzalez for an alleged road rage incident involving a gun in Weld County, near Highway 85 and County road 38. Steinke and another Fort Lupton officer arrived to assist. It was Vazquez’s patrol car which was illegally parked on the tracks.

As officers were searching Rios-Gonzalez’s pickup truck, a train hit the patrol car while Rios-Gonzalez was inside yelling for help.

Steinke’s defense said she was too focused on Rios-Gonzalez to notice the tracks, despite body cam footage showing several crossing signs within feet of the vehicle. Several witnesses were called to testify about Steinke’s state of mind, including a veteran investigator who pointed out the tracks were flush with the ground.

Steinke testified during the trial that while she observed the train tracks, she “did not perceive” them while walking Rios-Gonzalez to the car.

Her case was decided by 19th Judicial District Judge Timothy Kerns, who also issued the sentencing, after she waived her right to a jury trial. Vazquez is due in court in December. He faces eight misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.