Family of man killed by police during mental health crisis receive $19 million payout

DENVER (AP) — The parents of a 22-year-old Colorado man who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during a mental health crisis are being awarded $19 million by state and local government agencies, as well as changes in settlement, as part of a settlement announced Tuesday the training of civil servants.

The shooting of Christian Glass after his SUV got stuck in the mountain town of Silver Plume last year drew national attention and sparked calls to reform how authorities respond to people with mental health problems.

As part of the settlement, Sally and Simon Glass also negotiated changes they hope will prevent another family from suffering a similar loss. Clear Creek County will establish a crisis response team and the sheriff’s office will train and certify all deputies in crisis intervention, according to documents released by their attorneys.

As part of the settlement, Sally and Simon Glass (pictured) also negotiated changes they hope will prevent another family from suffering a similar loss.
As part of the settlement, Sally and Simon Glass (pictured) also negotiated changes they hope will prevent another family from suffering a similar loss.

The state of Colorado, which in addition to local agency officials, three officers at the scene of the murder of Glass on 11 escalation in stressful situations involving officials from different agencies.

A video message from Simon and Sally Glass will also be shown to State Troopers and Division of Gaming officers at the start of their active bystander training session. The program The focus is on encouraging officers to intervene when they feel a colleague is going too far or needs to back off from an incident.

There was no indication body cam footage that officials from other agencies were trying to prevent the vehicle from being broken into before Christian Glass was shot.

An attorney for the Glasses, Siddhartha H. Rathod, said they hope hearing her story will give officers the strength to intervene if necessary.

“Each of the seven officers there could have prevented this simply by saying something. They want to give law enforcement that courage,” he said of the shooting.

The settlement, also joined by the communities of Georgetown and Idaho Springs, is the largest for a police killing in Colorado and exceeds the $15 million settlement reached in 2021 for the death of Elijah McClain among the top performers in the United Statessaid Rathod. His law firm, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, also represented the mother of McClain, a 23-year-old black man who died in 2019 after police in the Denver suburb of Aurora forcibly restrained him and a paramedic injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.

Former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Buen, who shot Glass, and his supervisor, former Sgt. Kyle Gould, are both facing criminal charges for Glass’s death. A grand jury concluded that they had unnecessarily escalated the standoff after calling 911 for help. Gould was not at the scene but observed the events using body camera footage and authorized officers to remove Glass from his vehicle, court documents show.

Lawyers for both officers tried unsuccessfully to have the charges against them dropped. While Buen’s attorney objected to the way the grand jury information was presented, Gould’s attorney argued that Glass needed to be evaluated for drugs, alcohol, and mental health issues and not just walk away.

In response to police killings of mentally distressed people, reformers have pushed for crisis intervention and de-escalation training for police, and even alternative police programs that dispatch mental health workers to some emergency calls instead of law enforcement.

Some cities, including Denver, have programs that allow emergency responders and psychiatric doctors to be sent in place of the police. But in the area where Glass was killed, about an hour’s drive from Denver, that opportunity didn’t exist at the time.

Glass, whose car got stuck on a dirt road, first told the dispatcher he was being followed and made further statements, which the indictment said showed he was paranoid, hallucinating or delusional and experiencing a mental crisis.

Footage from the officers’ body cameras showed Glass refusing to get out of his car, making heart shapes with his hands at the officers and praying, “Dear Lord, please don’t let them break the window.”

After about an hour of deliberations, officers decided to break into the car, although the grand jury said there was no indication that Glass posed a danger or was suspected of a crime.

Once the window was smashed, body camera footage shows officers bombarding Glass with bean bag bullets and then verbally abusing him. According to the grand jury, Glass brandished a knife in “complete panic and self-defense” before swiveling in his seat to stab a knife at an officer. Buen then fired his gun at Glass five times.

The grand jury concluded that at no time was the other officer “imminently in danger of being stabbed by Mr. Glass.”

“But for Gould’s decision to remove Mr. Glass from the vehicle, there is no reason to believe that Mr. Glass would have been a danger to law enforcement personnel, to himself or to any member of the public,” it says in the indictment.

Body camera footage does not show officers from other agencies — including the Colorado State Patrol, the Gaming Department, and police from the nearby cities of Idaho Springs and Georgetown — trying to stop the vehicle from being broken into.

As Glass’ parents first called for public accountability Sally Glass said Christian was “petrified” the night he was killed and that officers had no sympathy for him as they charged her son’s death last year. She called on people to pray for her son and to work for a structural change in the police force.

“They should protect us and not attack us,” she said.

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