Skip to content

Christian Glass’s Parents Talk About His Life, Murder and “Rogue Cops”

Every time there’s a new development in the case of Christian Glass, a 22-year-old Boulder resident who was shot to death by Clear Creek County Deputy Andrew Buen in an incident last year that earned international coverage and condemnation, Sally and Simon Glass, his parents, gird themselves for more pain.

The January 4 release of a report about the tragic event produced under the auspices of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, chosen because the agency wasn’t involved in the episode, brought another round of agony. The analysis concludes that Buen, who was indicted in November on charges of second-degree murder and more, had violated policy and procedure in removing Glass from his vehicle and had no legal justification for opening fire on him. But it essentially gives a free pass to six other law enforcers on the scene at the time — a decision that leaves Simon mystified and frustrated.

“They’re all culpable,” says Simon, who, like the rest of his family, is originally from New Zealand, “because any of them could have stopped this and should have stopped this. They were all involved in the breaching of the car; multiple people decided to do that. So the focus on one individual seems like a cop-out in a way. If any of those other people had intervened, Christian would be alive.”

Simon and Sally speak about the report from the offices of Denver-based Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC alongside their attorney, Siddhartha Rathod. When my first questions focus on their memories of Christian rather than the specifics of the shooting or the latest document, the change in their voices is remarkable. The tension slips from their tone, as if for a few brief moments, their family, which also includes daughters Anna and Katie, is whole again.

“People would say Christian was a busy boy — like, ‘My, you have a busy boy,'” Sally recalls. “He was always up to something. We would go to the park, and he would swing on the swing a bit, but then he’d be climbing up a tree or trying to catch a duck. He was very curious about what wall he could scale or if he could run across the ice. Very active, incredibly inquisitive, and he was always trying to figure out how things worked. We joked that when all the kids were bouncing in the bouncy castle, he would try to figure out what was holding up the bouncy castle and then figure out how to deflate the bouncy castle.”

In his youth, Sally continues, “he would dance to music, but then he’d want to find out what was playing the music — and then he’d go to the CD player and see that silver disc spinning and try to figure out, ‘How do I open that?’ And as he grew, he would sometimes get bored in class, so he taught himself origami. He said, ‘You never get bored in class when there’s a piece of paper lying around,’ and he would make something out of the paper. But he was also very sporty. He was on the cricket team, the squash team, he played rugby, he played soccer. Oh, my God, he loved soccer.”

“Christian also had a strong sense of justice,” Simon adds. “He was interested in the world and how the world worked. We would have discussions with him about the events of the day. When he moved out of home, we would meet up at a cafe or something, and there would often be something he wanted to talk about: ‘What do you think about this or that?'”

Christian, Simon and Sally Glass.
Family photo via Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC

“He loved debate,” Sally says. “I think teachers would get a bit annoyed with him when he’d say, ‘Why are we reading this book?’ But he wasn’t trying to be difficult. He just wanted to understand why and what’s going on. He was a voracious reader, but he wasn’t a couch potato. When he moved into his flat, Simon gave him a TV, and he handed it right back. It was too passive for him. He didn’t watch TV.”

“I’ve still got it in the basement,” Simon adds.

When Christian was in grade school, the Glasses moved from New Zealand to California’s Silicon Valley, where Simon worked for a tech company. But the area was incredibly expensive — “We couldn’t see our kids affording a house there when they grew up,” Simon admits — and after three years, they began thinking about relocating. According to Sally, “The company Simon worked for had an office in Boulder, and when we visited some friends down here, we said, ‘I think we can afford to buy a family home in Colorado.'”

Simon subsequently transferred to the Boulder office, and the family soon adapted to a slower pace of life in Boulder. Simon remembers that “kids could come around and play.”

“A lot of kids in Silicon Valley were very overscheduled,” Sally notes.

At the time, Christian was in eighth grade, and he subsequently attended Monarch High School and embraced the Boulder lifestyle. “He liked the mountains, he liked the space, he liked that it was a little more relaxed,” Simon says. “He made some good friends. He was able to walk to school before he could drive.”

He also had the opportunity to embrace his longtime interest in geology. “It started in New Zealand,” Sally says. “For some of the kids who were more academic and got a little bored in school, they had what they called ‘one-day school,’ where one day a week, they were taken out of school and allowed to do their own research projects. They looked at rock formations and went on the beaches — and Christian loved that day. He’d say, ‘One day a week, I get not to be bored!’ He was interested in what created rocks, their different properties. I haven’t gone through everything in his bedroom — I’m going through it little by little, because it’s overwhelming — but the other day, I found a book called The Bible of Crystals. He was also very spiritual, so he was interested not just in how they were formed, but the different types, and he believed in the healing power of crystals, as well.”

Booking photos of former Clear Creek County deputies Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould.
Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office

Late on June 10, 2021, Christian had a hammer and a small knife he used for rock hunting when his car became stuck on two small boulders in Silver Plume — and he phoned 911 for help. Neither Simon nor Sally have watched video of the lengthy encounter with law enforcement that followed (in Simon’s words, “I hope you can understand why we couldn’t watch our child being tortured and murdered”), but Sally has heard audio of the call, and she was struck by how frightened he seemed.

“I said he was very spiritual,” she points out, the stress returning to her voice. “He’d just gone on a trip to Moab, and in the Navajo tradition, there are skin-walkers, these shape-shifters. So I think what happened is he read about these things and then got stuck and was in the dark, and he was scared, because he didn’t know where he was and he couldn’t move. I think his imagination ran away with him.”

His behavior has been widely described as a mental health episode, but Sally doesn’t think that’s quite right. “Christian did suffer on and off from depression. He tried some medication for it, but he was a bit like, ‘It doesn’t really help.’ He learned meditation techniques, and then recently, he was diagnosed as ADHD. I always knew he was such a busy boy, and that was partly the ADHD thing. And I apologized to him when he was diagnosed. I said, ‘I should have thought you had ADHD.’ And he said, ‘It’s okay. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on Ritalin through the whole of my childhood.'”

To attorney Rathod, however, the question of why Christian was upset on that night is academic. “The report says he was in crisis. He was scared, he got his car stuck in a dark and unfamiliar area, and the report says he told officers he was terrified — but the officers just escalated this behavior. He was having a crisis, and it doesn’t matter if he was having a mental health crisis or he was just scared. Christian had committed no crime. He was just stuck on some rocks. You should be able to call the police for help, but the Douglas County internal-affairs report shows they failed at every turn.”

Rathod adds, “They ratcheted things up and kept screaming and yelling and pointing guns at Christian when he had done nothing wrong, just because he stopped communicating. But the report says his behavior was normal and expected; it was expected that Christian would stop communicating based on their behavior. So they failed to follow their own policies. They failed to follow the basic idea of being a good person, of having decency and humanity for others.”

The detailed timeline in the Douglas County report shows that the situation dragged on from 11:21 p.m. on June 10 to 12:44 a.m. on June 11, when Buen fired at Christian. But the deputy had plenty of company. Also on hand were six other members of law enforcement, including Buen’s fellow CCSO deputy, Timothy Collins, plus Georgetown Police Department Chief Randall Williams, Idaho Springs police officer Brittany Morrow, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Ryan Bennie and Colorado Gaming Commission officers Krista Lloyd and Mary Harris. But no members of this sextet have been charged with a crime. Instead, the only person accused other than Buen was another Clear Creek deputy, Kyle Gould, who wasn’t on the scene but gave the order for Glass to be forcibly removed from his vehicle; he faces counts of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. Both Buen and Gould have been fired by the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Rathod is critical of the process that led to Buen and Gould being the only individuals to be prosecuted. “Initially, Clear Creek County issued a statement basically blaming Christian for his murder, saying he attacked the officers. Then the Glass family got the video and released the video to the public, which was a very difficult decision for them — and the public outcry demanded that Clear Creek County re-evaluate its position, since Clear Creek had put Deputy Buen back on the force two days later.”

In November, Rathod says, “Clear Creek requested that Douglas County conduct an internal-affairs investigation, because their own investigation was woefully inadequate, to be kind. But Clear Creek only asked about Officer Buen. Where are the internal affairs investigations of the other four agencies that were there? The Georgetown chief gave a command to breach the vehicle. Why isn’t the Georgetown mayor and city council demanding an investigation into his conduct? If Deputy Buen didn’t have grounds to breach the vehicle, neither did the Georgetown chief. And what about the officers from the Division of Gaming? What about Idaho Springs? What about the Colorado State Patrol? The State Patrol officer’s sergeant told him there’s no crime, that Christian isn’t a danger to himself and others, and that he should leave, and the patrolman tells that to the Georgetown chief. But does he leave? Does he stop the conduct? No. He continues to participate in the criminal activity. And in Colorado, failure to intervene is a crime.”

In Rathod’s opinion, “All seven of the officers engaged in that crime — and if a gang of seven people surrounded a car and one of them murdered the person in the car, all seven of them would be charged with murder. Why are the police treated differently? Why are the police given a different set of rules? Each of the five agencies is equally culpable for Christian’s murder.”

A photo of Simon and Christian Glass.
Family photo via Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC

Sally seconds this conclusion: “The report just focuses on the guy who pulled the trigger. But there were seven people up there, and what were the other six doing? First of all, why were there seven police there? Not to put someone who was scared and terrified at ease — shining lights in the pitch black at someone who is terrified. Anyone with any sense would realize that’s not what you do. Why didn’t any of those other people stand up and say, ‘Stop. What are we doing here? What’s our goal here?’

“And what was their goal?” Sally continues. “Was their intent to murder him? They were all complicit in that crime. It’s a failure to intervene, a failure to be a decent human and to stop a crime. They were seeing a crime unfold, and they didn’t stop it. They had a duty to do that, to protect and serve. They were supposed to help him, but they attacked and tortured him for over an hour, and then they murdered him. Unbelievable.”

For Simon, the obligation to keep reliving the most terrible act imaginable in interviews is terrible but necessary. “Christian isn’t here to speak for himself,” he says. “We feel that we are his voice now, since he can’t speak.”

“We don’t come from a litigious country,” Sally emphasizes. “It’s not a natural thing for us. Before this, we’d only talked to a lawyer to buy a house and write a will. But we’ve learned that in this country, you have to fight for justice, because the police won’t police themselves. They try to bury stuff. They keep evidence to stop the truth from coming out. It happens time and time again. When a police officer does something bad, they’ll sweep it under the carpet.”

There are exceptions to this rule, Simon contends. He praises District Attorney Heidi McCollum for filing charges against Buen and Gould, as well as Governor Jared Polis, for offering support early on. “It’s not all bad,” he says.

Still, Sally feels that more needs to be done. “If you have bad police, rogue cops, you have to address it and get rid of them — and then you’re left with good people. Decent people want to work with decent people.” In this case, though, “they tried to hide behind a blue wall of silence. But we are determined that Christian’s murder is not going to get hidden, because it’s not right, and we don’t want another poor family to go through what we’re going through.”

To view the article in it’s entirety, visit