Former deputy found guilty of reckless endangerment in Christian Glass’s death, but no verdict on murder charge

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A photo of Christian Glass rests among flowers during a vigil for the late 22-year-old, on Wednesday evening, Sept. 20, 2022, in Idaho Springs. Glass 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.

Andrew Buen, a former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s deputy, was found guilty of reckless endangerment in the shooting death of a young man whose car was trapped on a dark, rural road in Silver Plume in 2022. But the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the murder charge or official misconduct charge.

Reckless endangerment carries a possible sentence of up to 120 days in jail, but the sentencing hearing has not been set yet. The prosecution can request a retrial on the second-degree murder charge and official misconduct charge but hasn’t indicated yet what they’re going to do.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Christian Glass, a 22-year-old from Boulder, was “tortured” by law enforcement. They said Glass was scared and confused when he called 911 because his car was stuck.

Glass told dispatchers and police on the scene that he had a knife in the car. He refused to get out of the car but complied with orders to keep his hands off the knife. Buen pulled his gun on Glass anyway.

“So Christian has to be thinking to himself, ‘I did exactly what they told me. I didn’t touch the knife … and now they’re pointing guns at me. I did what they told me to do.’ No wonder he didn’t trust them. No wonder he was scared,” said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum in closing arguments earlier this week.

Other officers arrived on the scene to assist, and the 70-minute confrontation was caught on multiple body cameras. Prosecutors said that no one on scene was in danger, time was on their side and Buen had no reason to deploy a bean bag and stun gun on Glass, before shooting him five times.

“At that point, Christian is like an animal in a cage, being poked and prodded,” said McCollum in her closing argument.

Buen’s attorney, Carrie Slinkard, countered that Glass was driving under the influence, and Buen had to respond with force because Glass was attempting to attack another officer on the scene with the knife in his car. 

She showed the jury footage of Glass holding the knife in the car, while former Georgetown police chief Randy Williams was nearby, but outside the car.

Slinkard told the jury during closing arguments that the prosecution had “glossed over” that fact. “That’s the most important piece of evidence that’s sitting in that pile right there,” said Slinkard.

Experts called by the prosecution testified that Buen’s actions were not objectively reasonable. Buen, prosecutors noted, had hundreds of hours of training, and even had logged 20 hours in 2022, the year of the shooting, in training that included de-escalation.

Even before the verdict, the fallout from the shooting was wide-reaching. Multiple officers lost their jobs, some have pleaded guilty to failing to intervene, and have surrendered their right to work in law enforcement in Colorado. And Clear Creek County settled with the Glass family for $19 million.

In a statement, the family thanked the jury and the district attorney’s office for “its diligent prosecution” of Buen, and that they hope “no other family will experience their grief and profound loss due to law enforcement behavior.”