Late in the night on June 10, 2022, Christian Glass was driving his Honda Pilot on a rural road near Silver Plume in Clear Creek County when his car got stuck.
The 22-year-old called 911 from his cell phone for help. In recordings with the dispatcher, he said his car was ensnared in a “trap,” and he didn’t like the town he was in.
“You’re sending someone right? You tracked my location? My car is stuck under a bush,” Glass told the dispatcher. “I love you. You’re my light right now. I’m really scared. I’m sorry.”
The dispatcher told deputies, “I’m not having any luck clearing this party and he’s not making much sense.”
When officers arrived on the scene, they asked Glass to leave his car, but Glass refused. After a tense standoff that kept escalating, officers broke the windows in Glass’ car and Tased him. Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Buen shot and killed him.
Over the last year, the case has gained international attention. Buen and his supervisor have been fired and charged with second-degree murder, as well as other charges.
Glass’ parents filed a lawsuit against Clear Creek County and reached a settlement, which was announced Tuesday. The settlement is the largest of its kind in Colorado history.
Why was Christian Glass killed?
During the call with the 911 dispatcher, Glass said he was afraid and mentioned he had a couple of knives and a rock hammer in his car from a recent geological trip to Utah.
When officers arrived, he offered to throw the knives and hammer outside of the car. The officers declined, but demanded Glass exit the car instead. Glass told officers that he was scared and refused to leave the car, keeping his windows rolled up throughout the confrontation. He made heart shapes with his hands and blew kisses at officers.
Deputies threatened to break Glass’ car window, while more officers arrived on the scene over the course of an hour and 20 minutes. At one point, officers from Clear Creek, Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Division of Gaming were present.
Officials had no reason to suspect Glass had committed a crime. Officials later concluded that Glass never posed a threat to himself or others during the incident.
Who shot Christian Glass?
Clear Creek County deputy Andrew Buen shot and killed Glass after his superior, Kyle Gould, gave orders for Glass to be forcibly removed from his car.
After Gould gave the order, Buen broke the front passenger side window of Glass’ car, causing the 22-year-old to visibly panic inside the car, according to body-worn camera footage released by lawyers.
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.
Glass had already been Tased by Williams, and was thrashing around the car with a knife in his hand, when Buen shot and killed him, according to law enforcement and body-worn camera footage.
Both Buen and Gould have since been fired and were indicted on charges of second-degree murder and other crimes. They await trial.
Why has the case garnered international attention?
Christian Glass’ mother is from England and his father is from New Zealand, so he had citizenship in the UK, New Zealand and the United States.
In letters to Clear Creek County District Attorney Heidi McCollum, state Attorney General Phil Weiser, U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan and leaders from the British and New Zealand consulates asked for answers to what led to Glass being killed.
Eileen Dunne, a designated safeguarding officer for the British consulate, wrote, “We take these types of cases extremely seriously — as we know you do. Supporting British nationals around the world is one of the UK government’s global priorities and in cases such as these we are required to regularly report to London with information on the progress of these types of cases.”
What is in the settlement?
The settlement between Clear Creek County and Christian Glass’ parents includes $19 million for the family, a public park dedicated to Glass, and police reform and mental health training initiatives.
As part of those initiatives, Clear Creek County has agreed to establish a dedicated crisis response team by 2025. They also have agreed to train and certify all patrol officers in crisis intervention.
Additionally, the state agreed to develop a virtual reality training program reflecting Glass’ death with a focus on de-escalation in high-stress situations.
The Glass settlement is the largest known single payout for police violence in the state’s history. In 2021, the family of Elijah McClain received $15 million for his 2019 death after he was forcibly arrested and given ketamine. Last year, a jury awarded 12 protesters who were injured by police officers during George Floyd demonstrations in downtown Denver $14 million, collectively.
The Glass settlement agreement is also among the largest known single settlement payouts nationally. George Floyd’s family settled a lawsuit in 2021 in Minnesota for $27 million.
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