Christian Glass case heads to a grand jury

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A vigil for Christian Glass on Wednesday evening, Sept. 20, 2022, in Idaho Springs. He called 911 for help from his stranded vehicle in Silver Plume in June 2022. Clear Creek County deputies responded to his call, and in a moment captured by officers’ body cameras, one deputy shot and killed the 22-year old man

The investigation into the sheriff's deputy shooting death of a 22-year-old Boulder man earlier this year will be sent to a county grand jury, the lead prosecutor in Clear Creek County announced Wednesday.

Glass was shot and killed by Clear Creek County Deputy Andrew Buen in June. Glass had called 911 for help after his car got stuck on a dirt road near Silver Plume. 

“When a peace officer shoots and wounds or kills another in Colorado, there are specific protocols to investigate and review such matters,” said Heidi McCollum, the Clear Creek County District Attorney. “It is imperative that we reach the right decision and not rush into judgment — in fairness to the family of the victim, and those involved with and impacted by Christian’s death.” 

The jury was selected Tuesday and will meet multiple times in November. Glass was killed in June. In these last few months, McCollum has said she was waiting on investigatory documents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Sally and Simon Glass, Christian Glass’ parents, said in a statement on Wednesday that they support McCollum’s turning the case over to a grand jury. 

“The wheels of justice are turning in the right direction… There is not an hour that passes that we do not think about our gentle son, Christian Glass," they said. "We are expecting accountability for those involved in his murder."

Taking the case to a county grand jury means the lay people empaneled could decide to recommend criminal charges against Buen and the other officers on scene. McCollum will ultimately make that decision.

“Most of all, I am absolutely committed to seeking justice in this case,” McCollum said. 

Buen is the one who fired the shots that killed Glass. He is still on patrol after a leave of absence. In Colorado, other officers could also be held accountable under a fairly new "duty to intervene" law that requires officers who see other officers committing wrongdoing on the job try and stop that officer. There were officers on scene from a handful of nearby agencies, including the Georgetown police marshal and the Idaho Springs Police Department.

The Glass family contends their son was experiencing a mental health crisis when officers contacted him in June. Glass told both the 911 dispatcher and the arriving officers that he was afraid for his safety. Officers ordered Glass to get out of his car, but he did not, repeating he feared for his safety. 

“The death of Christian Glass was a tragic event, and the condolences of my office remain with Mr. Glass’s family and friends through this difficult time,” McCollum said. 

Glass told the 911 dispatcher and the arriving officers of geology knives he had in the back of the car and offered to toss the knives out of the car on multiple occasions. Officers declined that offer. Glass was holding a knife as he was shot and killed in the front seat. Officers say Glass posed a threat to their safety because he wouldn't put the knife down.

The case received little attention until lawyers hired by the family released body camera footage in September to reporters and said they intended to eventually file a lawsuit against Clear Creek County. Since then, Glass' story drew widespread international attention — Glass was a citizen of the U.S., New Zealand and the U.K. — as well as condemnation from Gov. Jared Polis.