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Prosecutors dismiss assault charge against officer who placed woman in patrol car hit by train

Fort Lupton Officer Jordan Steinke still faces two other charges related to the September incident that injured Yareni Rios.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Weld County prosecutors have dismissed the most serious charge against a Fort Lupton police officer who placed a handcuffed woman in a patrol car that was sitting on train tracks, minutes before it was struck by a train.

The woman, Yareni Rios, was seriously hurt in the Sept. 16 incident. She was a suspect in an earlier road rage incident and was pulled over by former Platteville Police Officer Pablo Vazquez. She stopped her car just after the train tracks on Weld County Road 36. Vazquez stopped behind her directly on the train tracks.

Rios complied with officers' commands and was handcuffed before Fort Lupton Officer Jordan Steinke placed her in the back, driver's side of Vazquez's patrol car, which was parked on the tracks.

Credit: Yareni Rios
A photo of Yareni Rios before she was hit by a freight train while detained in a police vehicle.

Steinke and Vasquez were both charged in the incident.

Steinke was initially charged with:

  • One count of criminal attempt to commit manslaughter, a felony
  • One count of second-degree assault, a felony
  • One count of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor

Courts records indicate the second-degree assault charge was dismissed by prosecutors.

"Upon further review of the case, we have decided to move forward with the existing charges that we feel are most appropriate in this case," a spokeswoman for the Weld County District Attorney's Office said in response to a 9NEWS request.

Steinke is next due in court on March 2.

Credit: 9NEWS
Pablo Vazquez, left, appears in court

Vazquez is charged with: 

  • Five counts of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, against five victims: Rios, Steinke and three other people
  • One count of obstructing a highway or other passageway
  • One count of careless driving, a traffic offense
  • One count of parking where prohibited

A second Fort Lupton officer who was also at the scene has not been charged.

Rios faces a menacing charge related to the initial road rage incident.

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