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‘It wrecked my life:’ Christian Glass’ mother wants recruits to understand implications of police brutality

Though the world has now had a chance to see the disturbing video of their son Christian’s shooting death allegedly by a Clear Creek sheriff deputy, Simon and Sally Glass have not had the stomach to watch it.

“We don’t want to see our son getting murdered,” said Simon Glass.

In their attorneys’ office Tuesday, they drank from water bottles, bleary-eyed from back-to-back interviews about their record Colorado civil rights settlement and efforts to force police reform. They spoke with each press outlet as if it were their first.

“I plan on going for a long walk tonight,” said Sally Glass, pushing her bangs from her forehead.

The $19 million award is believed to be the largest for a police killing in Colorado, topping the $15 million settlement reached in 2021 for the death of Elijah McClain, and also ranks among the top in the United States, according to attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai.

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 Aurora forcibly restrained him and a paramedic injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.

Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis — whom they said was the first to call them to condemn the shootings — proclaimed May 24 Christian Glass Day.

“On behalf of the state, I want to apologize for what happened to Christian,” Polis said.

On a live Facebook video, the couple stood with Polis flanked by American flags and two of their son’s paintings, three of which will be hung in government buildings around the state as part of the non-financial stipulations to their lawsuit.

“What happened should not have happened,” Polis said. “There are too many of these tragedies in our country, and also in our state.”

Sally Glass remarked: “We don’t want Christian to be swept under the carpet. We don’t want Christian to be forgotten.”

The Glass family lives in Boulder, but traveled the world with their children before settling in Colorado ten years ago. Christian Glass was born in his father’s native New Zealand.

Besides the $19 million settlement, which was divided by the state of Colorado, Clear Creek County, Idaho Springs and Georgetown, the Glass family received a handful of non-financial concessions including a plan by the Clear Creek County sheriff to assemble a county-wide crisis response team to be implemented by the beginning of 2025 to improve training.

The county will also implement a Citizens Policy Advisory Board.

Glass, 22, was shot and killed by a Clear Creek County sheriff deputy June 11, 2022.  He made a 911 call for help when his Honda Pilot got stuck on a remote road near Silverplume.

Officers from Georgetown, Idaho Springs, the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Gaming Commission were all on scene as back-up to the Clear Creek County sheriffs.

Former Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy Andrew Buen, who allegedly shot Glass, and his supervisor, former Sgt. Kyle Gould, are both being prosecuted in connection with Glass’ death. A grand jury found they needlessly escalated the standoff after he called 911 for help. Gould was not at the scene, but was watching events unfold on body camera footage and authorized officers to remove Glass from his vehicle, according to court documents.

Buen faces second-degree murder charges and Gould faces charges of criminally-negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

A spokesperson for the 5th Judicial District said that at this point, both will be tried at the same time.

Lawyers for both officers unsuccessfully tried to get the charges against them thrown out.

In one of multiple statements from the mountain jurisdictions involved, the town of Georgetown said that Christian Glass’ death “was tragic, preventable, and unnecessary.”

In accordance with the agreement, the state of Colorado will also implement changes in training, including a virtual reality system named after Glass with a focus on de-escalation in tense situations.  Sally and Simon will open the video explaining their experience to young recruits.

“It’s important that they see the impact on victims,” said Sally Glass through tears. “This wrecked my life.”

In an apology letter, Clear County Sheriff Rick Elbers acknowledged that “his officers failed to meet expectations in their response to Christian Glass when he called for assistance.”

The couple said that during negotiations, which Mohamedbhai said have been ongoing for nearly a year, Sheriff Elbers apologized to them face-to-face.

It meant more to them than his official apology letter, which they described as “weak” and showed a “lack of understanding of what they have done.”

Clear Creek County has promised to dedicate a park to Christian Glass.

That would suit him, said his mother.

“Whenever he had a party,” she said, “he would disappear and we’d find him in back sitting in the garden.”

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