Clear Creek County prosecutors say Christian Glass never posed a danger to law enforcement, the community

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Zigy Kaluzny holds a photo of his late friend Christian Glass at a vigil Tuesday evening, Sept. 20, 2022, in Idaho Springs. Glass was in his stranded car, from which he had called 911 for help, when he was fatally shot by a Clear Creek County deputy in June.

Kyle Gould, the Clear Creek County sergeant in charge of the deputies who responded to Christian Glass when he called 911 for help, gave orders over the phone for Glass to be forcibly removed from the vehicle — even though no one on the scene had any reason to suspect the man had committed any crime.

As a result of this decision, law enforcement officers’ actions escalated an already tense situation that started out as a service request call from a mentally unstable man seeking help from authorities because his car was stuck on some rocks on the night of June 11, 2022. 

Gould’s direct report, Deputy Andrew Buen, broke the front passenger side window of Glass’s car, causing the 22-year-old Boulder resident to visibly panic inside the car and thrash around. 

Another deputy, Tim Collins, jumped on the hood of the car and aimed a gun at Glass. Another officer on the scene, Georgetown Police Marshal Randy Williams, attempted to break the window on the other side of the car but was unsuccessful. A bean bag gun ultimately broke another window on the passenger side of the car.

Ultimately, Glass was shot and killed by Buen. Glass had already been tased by Williams and was thrashing around the car with a knife, according to law enforcement and body-worn camera footage released by lawyers. 

Initially, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office said that Glass tried to stab Marshal Williams, who was outside the car window holding a taser at the time, and that’s why they used lethal force against him. 

But the indictment signed by Clear Creek County District Attorney Heidi McCollum last week said that officers were never in danger of being hurt or killed by Glass.

“Deputy Buen fired his service pistol five times into Mr. Glass,” the indictment said. “Chief Williams was at no point ever in danger of being stabbed by Mr. Glass.”

Sgt. Gould faces charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in Glass’s death after a county grand jury met for the past several weeks, according to the 10-page indictment. 

In Colorado, criminally negligent homicide is defined as the failure to understand, through deviation from the standard of reasonable care, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death will result from conduct.

It’s unclear why Gould made the decision to force Glass out of the vehicle because the supervisor muted his body camera footage during his conversations with his deputies, according to the indictment.

Buen, the officer who shot and killed Glass after more than an hour of escalation and attempts of getting Glass out of his car, faces second-degree murder charges, reckless endangerment and official misconduct, according to the indictment. 

Collins, who was Buen’s partner on the scene, tried to talk to Glass more gently than Buen, the indictment said. But Buen never took cues to change his escalating tone with Glass. 

“Deputy Collins attempted several times to step-in to talk with Mr. Glass when Deputy Buen’s demeanor became verbally aggressive with Mr. Glass,” the indictment said. “Deputy Buen appears not to have picked up on any of the verbal cues or offers from Deputy Collins to help with the communication with Mr. Glass.”

Collins voluntarily left Clear Creek County after the incident and is now working for the Georgetown Police Department.

“But for the decision by Gould to remove Mr. Glass from the vehicle, there is no reason to believe that Mr. Glass would have been a danger to any law enforcement personnel, to himself, or to any member of the public,” the indictment read. “And the decision to remove him from the vehicle directly led to the death of Mr. Glass.”

District Attorney McCollum brought the charges against the officers the evening before Thanksgiving. They have both posted a bond and have court appearances in December. Both officers have been fired from the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

The Glass family, in a statement through their attorneys, said that nothing will bring Christian home, but they are relieved that there is some accountability now. 

“Justice for Christian will require all those involved being held accountable,” the statement said. “Christian’s death is a stain on every officer who was present and failed to prevent the escalation and unnecessary use of force.”

More coverage of the Clear Creek County deputies' shooting