The parents of a young man killed by a sheriff’s deputy in Colorado have won a $19m (£15.3m) settlement – the largest in the state’s history.
Christian Glass, 22, was shot dead after his SUV became stuck in the mountain town of Silver Plume, about 45 miles from Denver in June last year.
His parents Simon and Sally Glass also won a number of changes to policing, including crisis intervention training for officers responding to people with mental health issues.
Mrs Glass said: “If we can save one more family from ever having to go through this, if we can stop some other poor person being gunned down by police for no reason, then that will be the major achievement.”
Under the deal, Clear Creek County, where Mr Glass was killed, will create a crisis response team and its sheriff’s office will train and certify all deputies in crisis intervention.
The training will also encourage officers to intervene if they think a colleague is going too far or if they need time out from a situation.
Simon Glass said: “Speak up and say something and stop the onslaught – none of them did what they should have done that night and if they had, he’d be alive.”
Christian Glass had called police for help after his vehicle got stuck on a dirt road, telling the dispatcher various things that showed he was having a mental health crisis.
When asked if he had weapons, he said he had a hammer and a small knife he had been using for rock hunting, but he planned to throw these out of the car when help arrived.
The officers’ body camera footage showed him refusing to get out of his car, making heart shapes with his hands to officers and praying: “Dear Lord, please don’t let them break the window”.
After trying for an hour to get him to come out of the car, officers decided to smash their way into it, despite there being no indication Mr Glass posed a danger or was suspected of a crime, a grand jury found in November last year.
They smashed the window and peppered him with bean bag rounds – a type of baton round, fired from a shotgun, used to subdue suspects without killing them – and then tasered him.
Mr Glass had then waved a knife “in a state of complete panic and self-defence”, the grand jury said, before waving it in the direction of one of the officers.
Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy Andrew Buen then fired his gun five times.
‘No reason to believe Mr Glass would have been a danger’
Buen and former Sgt Kyle Gould, his supervisor, are both being prosecuted over his death.
Gould was not at the scene of the killing but had been watching events on body camera footage and gave the officers permission to remove Mr Glass from his vehicle, court documents said.
The grand jury had said: “But for the decision by Gould to remove Mr Glass from the vehicle, there is no reason to believe that Mr Glass would have been a danger to any law enforcement personnel, to himself, or to any member of the public.”
‘Officers who stood by and failed to intervene to protect Christian’
Mr. Glass, a trained chef and talented artist, was born in New Zealand but he and his family lived in Colorado when he was killed.
Lawyers for the Glass family Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC said: “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.”
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