A 20-year-old woman was seriously injured when the parked police patrol car in which she was being held was struck by a train in Colorado.
The incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. Friday near US 85 and County Road 38, just north of Platteville, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said in a press release.
“Although early in the investigation, it is believed the first call was reported earlier in the evening as an alleged traffic incident involving a firearm at Fort Lupton,” the agency said.
The agency identified the woman Monday as Yareni Rios-Gonzalez, a resident of Greeley.
A Platteville police officer stopped the Rios-Gonzalez’s car just past a railroad track and parked the patrol car at the intersection.
Two Ft. Lupton officers arrived at the scene and she was placed in the back of the Platteville officer’s vehicle, which was hit by the train traveling north as officers searched her car. It was not immediately clear which type of train hit the car. No one else was injured.
Rios-Gonzalez was detained on suspicion of imminent crime, the agency said, and was taken to a hospital in Greeley. She remained hospitalized Monday with multiple injuries and is expected to survive, a spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said.
In response to an investigation on Monday, Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer said the concerned officer from his department has been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is complete.
Theft. Lupton Police are investigating the road rage report, while the Colorado State Patrol investigates the crash. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said it is investigating the woman’s injury while she was in custody.
Ian Farrell, an associate professor at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, said the officer who parked the car on the tracks could be charged with reckless danger.
“If you recklessly put someone in a position where there’s a risk of serious bodily harm, that’s a class two felony,” Farrell said.
The officer may also be charged with third-degree assault, which occurs when a person recklessly causes serious bodily harm to another person.
“Stopping your car on the track, getting out of your car and leaving your car on the track with someone in it, if that’s not recklessness I don’t know what is,” Farrell said.
Farrell said the woman could claim civil damages as compensation for the injuries she sustained.
To be guilty of a more serious crime, such as first-degree assault, the officer should have known the person would be injured, Farrell said, while for the minor charges he was referring to, the norm is recklessness at most.
“To be reckless, you have to be aware of circumstances that would prevent a reasonable person from doing what you do,” he said. “So the police officer was aware that the vehicle was on the train tracks, and in my opinion a reasonable person in that situation, knowing what the police officer knew, would not take that risk.”
Had it not been for a police officer who parked on the train tracks, Farrell said he suspects charges would have already been filed.
“Imagine what people would say and what charges would be brought if it wasn’t a police officer,” he said. “Imagine if a mother parked her car on the track with a 2-year-old child in it and the car was hit. All kinds of criminal charges would be filed along the lines I just described.”
He added: “It’s shockingly reckless behavior.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com