DENVER — The family of Christian Glass, the Colorado man shot to death by a deputy with the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office who responded to a call of a person in distress last June, have settled the largest lawsuit in Colorado’s history.
But the Glass family says nothing can fill the void of their beloved son.
"Christian was awarded this money because he was murdered. So this is sad money. This is blood money," Sally Glass, the victim's mother, said Tuesday.
In the civil rights case settled by the law office of Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, Clear Creek County, the State of Colorado, the Town of Georgetown, and the City of Idaho Springs have now agreed to pay $19 million to Sally and Simon Glass, parents of the 22-year-old who was shot and killed by a Clear Creek County deputy last year.
On the evening of June 10, 2022, Glass dialed 911 after his car got stuck on an embankment in Silver Plume. Five agencies responded to the call. His parents said he was having a mental health crisis that day.
Glass remained in his car for more than an hour as deputies persuaded him to exit. When Glass maintained he was afraid and waited to stay inside, Deputy Andrew Buen with the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office responded that Glass would be removed with force. That call was authorized by former deputy Kyle Gould.
Moments later, Buen, as evidenced by body camera footage, can be seen shooting Glass. Glass would die from his injuries at the scene.
"I remember getting the call from the officer to come home. I remember the drive home when I was in my car, wondering what it could be. Did it relate to one of the children? Praying to God that it was nothing serious, but thinking it probably was," Simon Glass said. "I remember all of it."
Buen and Gould, the deputy who shot him and the deputy who authorized the call to do so, respectively, were both let back to work after the incident. It was only after the two were indicted on criminal charges related to Glass’ death, that they were fired by the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.
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The latest civil rights case settlement goes beyond action for just Buen and Gould, calling for accountability and laying out contributions from each of the five agencies who responded to Glass' call for help.
"The story is — intervene. When you see when you're an officer and you see something going wrong, you have a duty to stop it," Simon Glass said.
The City of Idaho Springs will pay $1 million. As Colorado State Patrol and the Division of Gaming both responded, the State will pay a total of $3 million. The Town of Georgetown is set to pay $5 million. Clear Creek County will settle the most amount, at $10 million.
A Tuesday news release from attorneys representing the family reads, “Christian Glass should be alive today. This settlement sends a message that such injustice will not be tolerated, and that those responsible will be held accountable — including those officers who stood by and failed to intervene to protect Christian.”
The settlement contains a number of non-monetary measures, including:
- A public park dedicated to Glass
- Virtual reality and training scenarios reflecting Glass’ death which will be implemented state-wide
- Educating new recruits on de-escalation
Each of these measures will be in consultation with the Glass family.
"I think the non-economic terms have been very, very important," Sally Glass said. "It's so important that they see the victims. They see the impact of what they've done."
The settlement also includes apology statements from each agency. The letter from Clear Creek County corrects their previous release from the day after the incident, calling it disturbing.
“The Clear Creek County Sheriff extends his deepest apologies to the family of Christian Glass. The Sheriff acknowledges that his officers failed to meet expectations in their response to Christian Glass when he called for assistance,” it said.
The previous news release, sent out by Clear Creek County on June 11, 2022, painted Glass as the aggressor who was armed with a knife: “The suspect eventually tried to stab an officer and was shot. The suspect was pronounced deceased on scene,” it read.
“The initial press release did not give an accurate description of what occurred. Rather, as stated in the conclusion of the investigative report subsequently issued by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office after an independent review requested by Sheriff Albers, the deputy who killed Christian Glass used lethal force that ‘was not consistent with that of a reasonable officer,’” the latest statement from Clear Creek County now reads. “The Sheriff has undertaken measures intended to prevent a future failure.”
“All involved agencies should have immediately corrected the information,” statements from both the Town of Georgetown and the City of Idaho Springs read. Both agencies responded the night Glass died.
Denver7 Investigates asked the Glass family what impact body-worn cameras had on the settlement.
"Well, I think without the cameras, the story would have been that Christian attacked the police," Sally Glass said. "He would have just been swept under the carpet. They would have told a pack of lies and that would be that."
Per the settlement, Clear Creek County must establish a dedicated crisis response team in the County by January 1, 2025. The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office will also train and certify all its patrol officers in crisis intervention.
“These agreements recognize the critical importance that law enforcement respond to emergencies, including situations involving mental health crises, with professionalism, empathy, and an emphasis on de-escalation,” attorneys for the Glass family said.
On Tuesday, the family of Glass recognized Polis as the first elected official to publicly condemn Christian’s murder. The governor is expected to speak at a ceremony commemorating Glass on Wednesday at 9 a.m., and the man's parents will present some of his artwork to be displayed in government buildings. The ceremony will be streamed live.
The two former Clear Creek County deputies are both facing charges in the death of Glass. Buen is currently facing three charges: Second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and official misconduct. Gould is facing negligent homicide and reckless endangerment charges for his role as a supervisor the night Glass was killed.
“The family also thanks Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum for her diligent prosecution of Officers Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould, two of the murderers of Christian,” attorneys of Sally and Simon Glass said.
Despite the defense’s efforts to dismiss charges against them, a judge ruled in April that charges for the two will move forward, citing, “Malicious intent can be inferred from the aggressive demeanor and the ultimate action of the Defendant shooting Mr. Glass as seen in the bodycam footage."
The next court date is set for June 21 at 1 p.m. at the Clear Creek County Courthouse.
"What I think this achieved is clearing his name," Sally Glass said. "But what's very important to us is... to see the men that murdered our son behind bars for a very long time and when that happens, then that will finish the journey to justice."