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CBI investigating officers who left suspect in squad car on train tracks

The woman was seriously hurt when a freight train crashed into the police car north of Platteville in Weld County Friday night.

PLATTEVILLE, Colo. — The chief of the Platteville Police Department told 9NEWS Sunday that an officer has been placed on administrative leave after, investigators say, he put a suspect in his squad car parked on train tracks and a train hit the squad car, seriously injuring the suspect.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case involving injury of someone in police custody. The agency said Monday that the victim, 20-year-old Yareni Rios-Gonzalez of Greeley, remains in the hospital with serious injuries. She is expected to survive, CBI said. 

RELATED: Suspect hurt when freight train crashes into police car

CBI said the woman was believed to be a suspect in a road rage incident moments earlier in Fort Lupton.

According to police radio traffic reviewed by 9NEWS, someone called 911 and said the woman had been tailgating their vehicle and pulled out a gun.

As the woman traveled northbound on Highway 85, Fort Lupton police officers and Weld County sheriff's deputies searched for her truck. A Platteville police officer radioed that he saw the truck in his jurisdiction and pulled it over.

According to CBI, the woman stopped just beyond railroad tracks that cross Weld County Road 38. The Platteville officer stopped behind her truck, parked across the tracks. Two Fort Lupton officers arrived and helped the Platteville officer conduct a high-risk traffic stop and take the woman into custody.

After they put her in the back seat of the Platteville squad car, the officers begin to search her vehicle. Moments later, another officer radioed that a train had hit the patrol vehicle with the woman inside.

“Those who are in your custody, you’ve detained them or they’re in the back of your patrol car, you have a duty of care towards that subject,” said Ed Obayashi, a California sheriff deputy who is an expert on police practices. “In other words, since you have assumed control, physical control, over them and their movements, you are by definition responsible to protect them in any situation.”

Obayashi said after reviewing available information about the case, he didn’t understand why the officer in question didn’t order the suspect to pull forward so his car wouldn’t be on the train tracks. Or after the suspect was in the vehicle, he said, the officer should have immediately moved the car before searching the woman’s truck.

“I can’t fathom why he would leave his vehicle on the tracks with the subject inside,” he said. “Why didn’t you move the vehicle off the tracks? That’s going to be the biggest question.”

While CBI investigates the in-custody injuries, Fort Lupton police continue to investigate the original road rage call. The Colorado State Patrol is investigating the crash involving the train and the squad car.

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RELATED: Weld County deputies searching for suspect in fatal hit-and-run


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