Woman seriously hurt after Colorado police car she was placed in is hit by a train
A 20-year-old Colorado woman was seriously injured when the parked police patrol car in which she was being detained collided with a train.
The incident happened around 7:30 p.m. Friday near U.S. 85 and County Road 38, just north of Platteville, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.
“Although early in the investigation, it is believed the initial call was reported as an alleged road rage incident involving a firearm in Ft. Lupton earlier in the evening,” the bureau said.
A Platteville police officer stopped the woman’s car near a set of railroad tracks and parked the patrol car at the crossing.
Two Foot Lupton officers arrived at the scene and the Greeley woman was placed in the back of the Platteville officer’s vehicle, which was hit by the northbound train, while officers searched her vehicle. It was not immediately clear what type of train hit the car.
The woman was taken into custody on suspicion of aggravated menacing, and was taken to Greeley Hospital after the confrontation, the bureau said. Details of his injuries have not been released. A spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Monday that they hoped to have an update on the woman’s condition later in the day.
In response to an inquiry Monday, Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer said the officer with his department has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation is completed.
Ft. The Lupton Police Department is investigating the road rage report, while the Colorado State Patrol is investigating the crash. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating the woman’s injuries while in police custody.
Ian Farrell, an associate professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, said the officer who stopped the car on the tracks could be charged with reckless endangerment.
“If you recklessly place someone in a position where there is a risk of serious bodily injury, that’s a class two misdemeanor,” Farrell said.
The officer may also be charged with third-degree assault, which occurs when a person recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person.
“Stopping your car on the train tracks, getting out of your car and leaving your car parked next to someone on the train tracks, if that’s not reckless, I don’t know what is,” Farrell said.
Farrell said the woman could seek civil damages as compensation for her injuries.
To be guilty of a felony such as first-degree assault, the officer must have known the person would be hurt, Farrell said, adding that while he has cited lesser charges, the standard is the most reckless.
“To be reckless, you only have to be aware of the circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to do what you’re doing,” he said. “So the police officer knew the vehicle was on the train tracks, and at least in my view, a reasonable person in that situation knowing what the police officer knew would not have taken that risk.”
Had it not been for a police officer standing on the train tracks, Farrell said he suspects charges would have been filed long ago.
“Imagine what people would be saying and what charges would have been laid if it hadn’t been for this police officer,” he said. “Imagine if a mother parked her car with a 2-year-old on the train tracks and the car got hit. She would face all kinds of criminal charges along the lines I just described.”
He added: “This is shockingly reckless behaviour.”