Parents of Christian Glass, 22, want the record $19 million settlement for the shooting death of their son by a Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy to send a strong message to law enforcement across the country.
Officers can’t shoot someone just because they’re frustrated, angry or impatient, Simon and Sally Glass told the Denver Post on Tuesday afternoon in an interview. But that’s 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 issues like this,” 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 the death of their son. It is the largest settlement involving police misconduct in Colorado 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-monetary concessions, including a requirement that the Clear Creek County Sheriff and Colorado State Patrol incorporate lessons from Christian Glass’s death into their training. This training will include video interviews and personal interviews with the glasses. The agreement also required Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers to apologize for the murder.
“Christian had such a strong sense of justice,” Simon Glass said. “He would have been horrified by what happened to him.”
On June 10, Glass hit his car on an embankment as he turned around in Silver Plume, and he called 911 for help. He told the 911 operator 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 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 Gaming Division arrived as Glass repeatedly told them that he was too scared to come out but he didn’t want to hurt them.
Several times, according to video footage, he raised his hands with his fingers in the shape of a heart. He did not leave the driver’s seat during the 70-minute standoff.
The situation quickly escalated, with officers asking him to get out of the car and pull out their guns. An officer stood on the hood of the SUV with his gun pointed at Glass.
Officers shot Glass with a Taser and a pellet gun before a deputy – Andrew Buen – fired multiple times, killing Glass in the driver’s seat.
Police experts said officers failed to defuse before deciding to use force against Glass, who posed no threat to them.
Buen was indicted by a Clear Creek County grand jury for second degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment. He was fired after the indictment.
Former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kyle Gould, who was also fired after the grand jury indictment, faces charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment because he gave officers the green light to break up the Glass’ car windows and get him out of the car.
After the shooting, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release stating that Glass was killed after attacking the deputies.
This, however, was not true.
But Glass’ parents didn’t find out until months after the shooting, when their attorneys reviewed body camera footage with the Clear Creek County prosecutor.
“He never hurt anyone, so why would Christian suddenly go and try to attack a policeman?” Sally Glass said. “We come from a really quiet world. It made absolutely no sense to us.
“We lived with these lies for a long time.”
Christian Glass had never caused problems for his family or others growing up.
Simon Glass is from New Zealand and Sally Glass is from England. Their children have dual nationality, which led to the case attracting international attention.
Christian Glass has always been 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, Governor Jared Polis will declare it Christian Glass Day in Colorado as he accepts art from the Glass family in a private ceremony.
Now that the settlement is finalized, the Glass family wants the two officers charged in connection with their son’s death to be punished.
“We want the killers in jail,” Simon Glass said.
Next, they would like to return to the quiet life they once led while helping Christian’s younger sisters cope with their brother’s death.
They will always miss their son.
“I’m so sad all the time,” Sally Glass said.
Simon says he misses going to a cafe and having long discussions about things that Christian Glass found interesting.
And there were a lot of things: watercolors, sketches, Buddhism, tennis, computer coding, cooking, social justice.
It’s heartbreaking to think that her son’s life was cut short by the police, whom her son called for help. Simon Glass said his son would be disgusted with 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 brutality, his father said.
“He was so irritated by it all. He used to get really upset about the abuse of power,” Simon Glass said. “Then he left the same way.”
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