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Former Clear Creek deputy will be retried on second-degree murder charge after jury hung in death of Christian Glass

Andrew Buen, a former Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy convicted of reckless endangerment on Friday in the shooting death of a 22-year-old man who had called 911 for help, will be retried on two more serious charges on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Buen was also charged with second-degree murder and official misconduct in the 2022 death of Christian Glass, which drew national attention and prompted calls for police reform focused on crisis intervention. But jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on those charges and only found him guilty of the misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of up to 24 years in prison.

Buen’s sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

An attorney for the Glass family on Friday said the family would like the prosecution to continue.

“The jury found Deputy Buen’s conduct to be criminal,” Siddharta Rathod said. “The jury found Deputy Buen guilty of reckless endangerment. And it is one step closer to getting justice for Christian. Deputy Buen will reface a jury of his peers.”

Rathod on Monday said a lone holdout on the jury kept Buen from being convicted. The retrial is scheduled for August, he said.

Prosecutors alleged that Buen needlessly escalated a standoff with Glass, who exhibited signs of a mental health crisis. But the defense said Buen shot Glass to protect a fellow officer, which made the shooting legally justified.

A second officer indicted in Glass’ death previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanorSix other officers have been charged with failing to intervene. Rick Albers, who served in the Clear Creek County sheriff’s department for 43 years, retired as sheriff a year after Glass’ death.

Clear Creek County Sheriff Matthew D. Harris, who was hired in January, said that while it will be a long time before the outcome of the retrial is known, many changes are underway in his department, including including a mental health co-responder program, a new leadership structure, and an overhaul of policies to ensure they comply with law enforcement best practices.

“I remain steadfast in fostering a culture of accountability, transparency, and professionalism to earn the public’s trust,” Harris said in a statement announcing District Attorney Heidi McCollum’s plan to retry Buen. “Anything less is unacceptable.”

A 911 call escalated

Glass called for help in June 2022 after his SUV became stuck on a dirt road in Silver Plume. He told a dispatcher he was being followed and made other statements suggesting he was paranoid, hallucinating or delusional, and experiencing a mental health crisis, according to Buen’s indictment.

When Buen and other officers arrived, Glass refused to get out of his vehicle. Officers’ body camera footage showed Glass making heart shapes with his hands to the officers and praying: “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”

In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors said Buen decided from the start that Glass needed to get out of the vehicle and shouted commands at him 46 times over about 10 minutes. The prosecution contends Buen did not have any legal justification to force Glass out, not even if it was a suspected case of driving under the influence.

They fired beanbag rounds and shocked him with a Taser, but those attempts failed to make Glass exit. He then took a knife he had offered to surrender at the beginning of the encounter and flung it out a rear window, which was broken by a beanbag, toward another officer, Randy Williams, according to the indictment. At that point, Buen fired five times at Glass.

Glass just reacted after being treated “like an animal in a cage being poked and prodded,” and the knife never touched Williams, McCollum told jurors in closing arguments in Idaho Springs.

Defense lawyer Carrie Slinkard faulted prosecutors for not looking into whether Glass had behavioral or psychological issues that could explain his behavior, whether drugs had played a role, or whether both factors could have contributed.

Glass’ mother, Sally Glass, has previously said her son has depression and had recently been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She said he was “having a mental health episode” during his interaction with the police.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Potts, who described Glass as a “terrified boy,” said it did not matter what prompted the crisis.

“He was in a crisis of some kind,” he said. “Is this how we expect people in crisis to be treated?”

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