Christian Glass’s parents speak about $19 million settlement over son’s death
The parents of 22-year-old Christian Glass want the record-setting $19 million settlement over their son’s shooting death by a Clear Creek County Sheriff’s deputy to send a strong message to law enforcement across the country.
Officers cannot shoot someone just because they are frustrated or angry or impatient, Simon and Sally Glass told The Denver Post Tuesday afternoon in an interview. But that is what happened on June 11, 2022, when their son was shot and killed in a “malicious” attack by police, the couple said.
“We want other police forces to see this and make sure they don’t have problems of this sort,” Simon Glass said. “We don’t want this to happen to another family.”
The family will receive a $19 million settlement from the state and three law enforcement agencies, including the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office for their son’s death. It is the largest settlement involving police misconduct in Colorado’s history, surpassing the $15 million paid in 2021 by Aurora to settle a civil rights lawsuit over the death of Elijah McClain.
The settlement also includes non-financial concessions, including a requirement that the Clear Creek County sheriff and Colorado State Patrol incorporate lessons from Christian Glass’s death into their training. That training will include video interviews and personal talks from the Glasses. The agreement also required Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers to apologize for the killing.
“Christian had such a strong sense of justice,” Simon Glass said. “He would have been horrified about what happened to him.”
On June 10, Glass got his car hung up on an embankment while making a U-turn in Silver Plume, and he called 911 for help. He told the 911 operator that he had weapons — two knives, a hammer and a mallet — from a rock-hunting trip in his car. He offered to throw them out the window to make the officers feel safe.
When officers arrived, Glass told them he was scared and refused to get out of his SUV. Officers from the sheriff’s office, Georgetown Police Department, Idaho Springs Police Department, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Division of Gaming arrived as Glass repeatedly told them he was too scared to exit but that he didn’t want to hurt them.
Several times, according to video footage, he held his hands up with his fingers making the shape of a heart. He did not leave the driver’s seat during the 70-minute standoff.
The situation quickly escalated with officers demanding he exit the car and drawing their guns. One officer stood on the hood of the SUV with his pistol pointing down at Glass.
The officers shot Glass with a Taser and a beanbag gun before one deputy — Andrew Buen — fired multiple rounds, killing Glass in the driver’s seat.
Policing experts have said the officers failed to de-escalate before deciding to use force on Glass, who posed no threat to them.
Buen was indicted by a Clear Creek County grand jury on charges of second-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment. He was fired after the indictment.
Former Clear Creek County sheriff’s Sgt. Kyle Gould, who also was fired after the grand jury’s indictment, faces charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment because he gave the go-ahead for officers to break Glass’s car windows and pull him out of the car.
After the shooting, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release that said Glass was killed after he attacked the deputies.
That, however, was not true.
But Glass’s parents did not know that until months after the shooting when their lawyers reviewed body camera footage with the Clear Creek County District Attorney.
“He’s never hurt anyone so why would Christian suddenly go and try to attack a police officer?” Sally Glass said. “We just come from a really quiet world. It just didn’t make absolutely any sense to us whatsoever.
“We lived with those lies for a long time.”
Christian Glass had never caused his family or others trouble while growing up.
Simon Glass is from New Zealand, and Sally Glass is from England. Their children hold dual citizenship, which has led to the case gaining international attention.
Christian Glass was always an active boy with an artistic side. He had ADHD, his mother said, and found art to be the thing that calmed his mind.
His room was filled with paintings and drawings.
Three of his pieces will be displayed in Colorado state office buildings as part of the family’s settlement. And on Wednesday , Gov. Jared Polis will declare it “Christian Glass Day” in Colorado as he accepts the art from the Glass family during a private ceremony.
Now that the settlement is finalized the Glass family wants to see the two officers charged in connection with their son’s death to be punished.
“We want the killers in jail,” Simon Glass said.
Then they would like to return to the quiet life they previously had while they help Christian’s younger sisters cope with their brother’s death.
They will always miss their son.
“I’m just so sad all the time,” Sally Glass said.
Simon says he misses going to a cafe and having long discussions about things Christian Glass found interesting.
And there were a lot of things: watercolors, sketching, Buddhism, tennis, computer coding, cooking, social justice.
It’s heartbreaking to think of his son’s life being cut short by police, who his son had called for help. Simon Glass said his son would be disgusted about how he died.
During the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Christian Glass was squarely on the side of people protesting police violence, his father said.
“He was so incensed by it all. He use to get really upset by the abuse of power,” Simon Glass said. “Then he went in the same way.”
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