Updated 5:17 p.m.
After getting stuck on a dirt road in Clear Creek County in June, Christian Glass called 911 for help.
Instead, the 22-year-old was killed while locked inside his own car after a long, tense, confusing and chaotic confrontation played out between him and Clear Creek deputies and a handful of other agencies. Video footage was released by his family’s lawyers.
Glass’s parents, Sally and Simon Glass, spoke to reporters Tuesday to try and clear their son’s name and announce their intention to eventually sue the responding agencies responsible for their son’s death.
“From beginning to end, the officers escalated and proactively initiated force,” Glass’ family lawyers, Siddhartha Rathod and Qusair Mohamedbhai, said, in a release. “And yet, these officers, including the one who killed Christian, are still in uniform and have paid no price for their conduct. Our country cannot continue to tolerate this level of extreme violence by law enforcement. The act of simply calling 911 for help cannot be a death sentence.”
A call for help
Late on the night of June 11, 2022, Glass apparently got his car stuck on a rural road near Silver Plume.
When he phoned 911 from his cell phone asking for help, he sounded mentally unstable, paranoid and extremely scared. He told an operator his car was ensnared in a “trap” in a bush and he said he didn’t like the town he was in.
“I’m in a 2007 Honda Pilot. I will not be fine on my own,” he told an operator. “You’re sending someone right? You tracked my location? My car is stuck under a bush … I love you. You’re my light right now. I’m really scared. I’m sorry.”
A Boulder County resident, Glass was an amateur geologist and had some knives and a hammer in his car from a recent trip to Utah.
Glass, whose parents are from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, told the dispatcher he had what could be perceived as weapons in the car and he offered to throw them outside when officers arrived.
“I have two knives and a hammer and a rubber mallet,” he said, in a slight accent, to the emergency dispatcher. “I’m not dangerous. I’ll keep my hands completely visible. I understand this is a dodgy situation.”
The dispatcher relayed that information to deputies.
“I’m not having any luck clearing this party and he’s not making much sense,” the dispatcher told the deputies.
When they arrived on the scene, Glass again offered to throw the tools and knives out the window.
Deputies said they didn’t want him to throw the weapons out of the car and instead demanded that he get out of the car.
A tense scene
Glass told officers with his hands up that he didn’t feel safe getting out of the car. He took the keys out of the ignition and put them on the dashboard and told them he was scared and wanted to stay in the car. He wasn’t suspected of any crime.
“Please push me out, drag me out, I’ll follow you to a police station,” Glass told the officers. “I’m so scared.”
The deputy, whose name has not been released by authorities, yelled at Glass.
“You need to step out of the car now. Step out of the car,” he said. “That is a lawful order. Step out of the car now or you’ll be removed from the vehicle.”
Glass responded, “I’m so scared … You’re not communicating clearly with me. I don’t understand why I have to come out.”
Within three minutes, the deputy threatened to break the window, yelling again, ”step out of the car!”
Glass can be seen on the body camera footage placing his palms together as in prayer and saying, “Lord, please don’t let them break the window!”
Within six minutes of responding, the deputy sees Glass’ knife and pulls out his gun. Glass throws the knife to the other side of the car and puts his hands up.
Glass didn’t appear to be posing any threats — to himself or to others. He told officers he “smoked” but no one asked him anything else beyond that.
Throughout the confrontation, Glass remained in the car with the windows rolled up. He can be seen making a heart-shape with his hands at the officers.
“You have my name and phone number, right?” he asked them.
More officers arrived on the scene. At one point, officers from Clear Creek, Idaho Springs, Georgetown Police, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Division of Gaming were on the scene.
“Come talk to us,” a female officer asked him. Glass put his hands into a heart sign in the car and then blew kisses at her. “Same back at you, but come out and talk to us,” she said.
That officer walked over to two other female officers and joked that they needed to send “cute girls” over there to talk to him.
‘No reason to contact him’
A supervisor at the Colorado State Patrol, at one point, radioed in that Glass hadn’t committed any crimes.
“Can you ask Clear Creek what their plan is? If there is no crime and he’s not suicidal or homicidal or a great danger, then there’s no reason to contact him,” a CSP sergeant says over the radio. “Is there a medical issue we’re not aware of?”
“No,” a patrol trooper responded back.
But the increasing number of officers on the scene remained there, engaged for almost an hour and 20 minutes, attempting to get Glass to come out of the car. At one point, a deputy climbed on to the hood of the car and shined a flashlight into his eyes and remained there, eventually drawing his gun and pointing down into the car at Glass.
“We’re poppin’,” a deputy said as they attempted to break the car window. Glass picked up the knife.
“He’s got a knife in his hand!” another officer said. “Watch crossfire, watch crossfire."
Officers stepped back and drew their guns. They eventually broke the passenger window, and glass sprayed all over. Glass kept his grip on the small knife.
“You need to drop that knife!” officers shouted.
Glass’ head darted from left to right as officers got closer to him and began shooting bean bags in the car.
“Impact, impact, impact,” officers yelled, as the bean bags went in, appearing to break more of the car windows. Glass grew more agitated and moved his eyes and head back and forth. He started screaming.
Another deputy calls for someone to use a Taser on Glass.
The first officer on the scene deployed his yellow Taser gun and struck Glass. He started screaming again. Officers were on all sides of him at this point with flashlights beaming. A few seconds go by, and officers scream at him again to drop his knife.
“You can save yourself!” he yelled, his last words. “You can still save yourself! Lord hear me. Lord hear me.”
One deputy fired several rounds, striking him and killing him.
Scant information, no further comments
The next morning, on June 11, deputies released a press release with the following information:
“Deputies were able to break out the car windows and remove one knife. The suspect rearmed himself with a rock and a second knife,” it read. “Deputies deployed less-lethal bean bags, and Taser with negative results. The suspect eventually tried to stab an officer and was shot. The suspect was pronounced deceased on scene.”
Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers said Monday he had no further comment on the incident.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is reportedly investigating.
Clear Creek County District Attorney, Heidi McCollum, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on whether she is investigating the responding officers for excessive force crimes or if she is going to send the investigation to a grand jury. Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office had no comment on the incident.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is charged with reviewing shootings by police officers to determine whether there is evidence of federal criminal civil rights violations. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had no comment on whether they were investigating Glass’ death.
Glass’s parents are expected to speak Tuesday at their lawyer’s office in Denver. Glass was an avid tennis fan and player, a trained chef and a self-taught artist.
“These officers took a gentle, peaceful soul and extinguished it simply because it was ‘time to move the night on,’” lawyers Rathod and Mohamedbhai said, quoting some body worn camera video of the Georgetown Police Chief telling Glass that they didn’t want to stay there anymore. “From beginning to end, the officers on scene acted unconscionably and inhumanely. The Glass family agrees with Colorado State Patrol’s on-scene assessment that Christian had committed no crime, posed no threat to himself or others, and there was no reason for continued contact.”
More criminal justice coverage to read:
- 4 things we learned from the first-ever release of data that shows how Colorado DAs prosecute cases
- Just a handful of Denver neighborhoods are home to a disproportionate number of imprisoned people
- Aurora Police revamp special team to target violent crimes
- STAR Program works to provide resources to people in crisis without involving police 🎧
If the crash happened one county to the east
It’s very possible that had Glass gotten his car stuck in another location, the entire incident would have ended differently.
In Denver and in Jefferson County, which borders Clear Creek County, law enforcement agencies have co-responder programs to help responding officers with people who could be suffering a mental health crisis.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office co-responders have helped with 525 calls since January 2022. Deputies on the Crisis Intervention Team have 40 hours of mental health training a year, according to an agency spokeswoman.
“A co-responder is a mental health professional who can assist deputies in de-escalation, help stabilize a crisis through clinical and needs assessments, and assist with linkage to appropriate mental health, substance abuse, and other services after a crisis,” said Karlyn L. Tilley, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “They provide follow-up support and field responses or intervention for citizens in Jefferson County who are experiencing a mental health crisis or other mental health issues.”
In Denver, new police recruits must complete eight hours of integrating communications and tactics training, active bystander training for law enforcement and another eight hours of training for risk-assessment response.
Within 18 months of being hired, all officers must complete the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team mental health training, as well as verbal de-escalation skills courses.
A study earlier this year by Stanford University found that Denver’s co-responder program, called STAR, reduced crime.
Instead of police, it sends mental health professionals to certain non-violent 911 calls.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misstated the date of Christian Glass' death.
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