Christian Glass called 911 for help after crashing his car into an embankment in Silver Plume — he needed someone to unstick his car.
Instead, a Clear Creek County deputy who responded shot and killed Glass in the early hours of June 11 as the 22-year-old experienced a mental health crisis. For an hour and nine minutes, seven officers with a variety of agencies tried to coax Glass out of the car.
Eventually, they decided to break the window and physically pull him out — despite not being suspected of a crime. In the chaos that ensued, Glass grabbed a knife and officers Tased and shot him with beanbags in an attempt to force him to drop it. Instead, Glass twisted in the driver’s seat and thrust it toward an officer standing next to the shattered window behind him, prompting the deputy to shoot him.
Attorneys for Glass’ family on Tuesday publicly released hours of body camera footage depicting the shooting and said officers never should have escalated the situation to the point where lethal force was considered.
“There was no need to threaten him with force; to draw guns; to break his car window; to fire beanbag rounds from a close distance; to tase him; to shoot him dead,” the Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm said in a news release. “From beginning to end, the officers on scene acted unconscionably and inhumanely.”
Glass’ family called on the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney for the state of Colorado to prosecute the officers involved in the shooting. His parents are expected to speak about the shooting at a news conference Tuesday.
Glass lived in Boulder and was an artist, chef and avid tennis player with many hobbies. The night he was killed he was returning from a rock hunting trip. He wasn’t accused of any crime, his family’s attorneys said.
During the hour-long negotiations with Glass, the Colorado State Patrol trooper on scene talked to his supervisor. The audio was captured on the trooper’s dashboard camera.
“Can you ask Clear Creek what their plan is?” the supervisor asked. “If there’s no crime and he’s not suicidal, homicidal or a great danger, then there’s no reason to contact him.”
Twenty minutes later, Glass was dead.
“We’re not going to shoot you”
In his call to 911, Glass repeatedly told the call taker that his car was stuck and he was afraid. He told her he had two knives and a rubber mallet when she asked if he had any weapons, but said he would throw them out the window when deputies arrived, dispatch audio provided to The Denver Post by Glass’ family attorneys shows.
“I’m not dangerous, I will keep my hands completely visible,” he told the call taker.
Dispatch operators told the two Clear Creek County deputies sent to the scene — Andrew Buen and Tim Collins — that Glass had two knives and that he sounded paranoid. Glass told her “skinwalkers” were after him and that his car was stuck in a trap.
When they arrived, Glass held his hands out the driver’s side window but refused to step outside of the car when the deputies asked him to because he was afraid. Glass asked if they were going to shoot him.
“No, dude, we’re not going to shoot you but we need you to come here,” Collins said.
When Glass rolled up his window and refused to come out, Buen ordered him to take the keys out of the ignition. He complied but still refused to get out of the car, saying he needed to get pulled off the embankment.
Two minutes into the interaction, Buen started yelling at Glass telling him to step out or he’d be forcefully removed from the car. As Collins placed stop strips behind the car, Glass offered to throw the knives out of the window. Buen told him not to.
More officers are called to the scene as Buen and Collins hold Glass at gunpoint after Glass took a knife near his lap and tossed it to the other side of the car. Glass immediately held both his hands above the steering wheel after throwing the knife aside and the deputies eventually lower their weapons.
Over the next hour, Buen, Collins and the five other officers who arrived on the scene from Idaho Springs Police, the Colorado Division of Gaming, Colorado State Patrol and Georgetown Police tried to talk to Glass and get him to step out of the car. They offered him soda, cigarettes and beef jerky, but Glass wouldn’t come out.
Several times the officers acknowledged they had time to wait and don’t need to rush the interaction, especially since he was contained in the car. They also acknowledged he was having a psychological crisis.
“We’ve got time,” Collins said shortly after pointing his gun at Glass. “Until we don’t. He’s not going anywhere for a while.”
During the ongoing negotiations, the Colorado State Patrol trooper on scene spoke with his sergeant about whether there was a plan and whether Glass posed a threat. The trooper then asked Georgetown Police Marshal Randy Williams about potential risk and Williams said Glass wasn’t suicidal and that he probably took something, the dashboard camera footage shows. When the trooper asked what the plan was, another officer on scene responded that it was the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office’s decision.
Fifteen minutes later, the trooper asked the other officers on scene whether they planned to arrest Glass.
“So what’s the plan, are you guys charging or trying to get him help?” the trooper asked.
“We’re just trying to get him help,” one of the other officers responded and explained they were trying to detain him for a mental health hold.
Fifty-two minutes into the encounter, the officers decide to break the window and physically pull Glass out. Glass grabbed a knife again after officers try and fail to open his door. Several pull out their guns and Collins gets on the hood of the car, pointing his gun down at Glass.
After 15 more minutes of trying to get Glass to step out, Williams told Glass that they were going to break out the window because “it’s time to move the night on.” Two minutes later, Buen broke out the passenger window with his baton.
Glass grabbed the knife again, screaming, and all the officers yelled at him to drop it. Buen fired six beanbags at him and another officer Tased him in an attempt to get him to drop the knife. Glass did not drop the knife and yells at the officers: “I’m going to kill every single one of you if you don’t stop — you can save yourselves.”
Glass, still seated in the driver’s seat, then twisted and thrust the knife toward the broken-out window behind his seat, where Williams stood. Buen then shot him five times, after which Glass stabbed himself multiple times. When they pulled him out of the car, he was unresponsive.
None of the officers were injured.
Public officials mum
Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers did not respond to an email or phone call requesting an interview for this story. Williams, the Georgetown police marshal, declined an interview because of the ongoing investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum has not yet decided whether to criminally charge the officers in the incident. She did not respond to a request for an interview Monday nor answer questions sent to her spokesperson, including a request for the names of all the officers involved.
In its first and only news release about the shooting, sent the same day as Glass was killed, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office said Glass “immediately became argumentative and uncooperative” and that he was shot after he tried to stab an officer. Glass in not named in the release but is referred to as a “suspect,” though the release does not say what crime he is suspected of.
The news release, written by Undersheriff Bruce Snelling, did not mention that Glass was seated in the driver’s seat when he allegedly tried to stab an officer, though he did tell the Clear Creek Courant that the “suspect” did not leave the car.
The press release does not describe why officers decided to break out the car windows. It also did not mention that officers on scene had identified him as likely having a mental health crisis.
The body camera footage captured Collins speaking with Albers after the scene.
“I swear to (expletive) sir, we tried everything,” Collins told the sheriff.
“If you did everything you can, that’s what counts to me,” Albers responded.
But Glass’s family doesn’t think the officers did everything they could. Instead, officers “took a gentle, peaceful soul and extinguished it simply because it was ‘time to move the night on.’”
“The act of simply calling 911 for help cannot be a death sentence,” the family’s attorneys said. “People in distress need help, not force.”
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