A Colorado sheriff has not “adequately accepted responsibility” for his role in the fatal shooting by one of his deputies of a 22-year-old who called 911 for help, top county officials said Tuesday.
The statement from Clear Creek County’s Board of County Commissioners came as the parents of Christian Glass called for Sheriff Rick Albers to resign in the wake of their son’s killing nearly a year ago.
“The Board does not believe that the Sheriff has adequately accepted responsibility for his central role in this tragedy or the need to swiftly correct all of the gaps in training and protocols that existed at the time of Christian’s death,” the three-person Board of County Commissioners said in a statement.
A Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy, Andrew Buen, shot and killed Glass on June 10, 2022, as Glass sat in the front seat of his car. Glass called 911 after crashing his car into a berm in Silver Plume and told the dispatcher he was being chased by “skinwalkers.” Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies spent more than an hour trying to coax Glass from the car before deciding to forcibly remove him. Buen shot Glass after the officers broke the car windows and a panicked Glass grabbed a knife and swung it toward an officer standing outside the backseat window.
“Sheriff Albers’ refusal to accept any personal responsibility for this unjustifiable loss of life demonstrates a lack of leadership and a disregard for the trust placed in him by the community,” Glass’ parents said in a statement. “Sally and Simon Glass join the Board in condemning Sheriff Albers’ conduct and call for his resignation.”
Clear Creek County and four other governments in May agreed to pay $19 million to settle legal claims around Glass’ killing. As one of several non-monetary concessions agreed to in the settlement, Albers was required to issue an apology to Glass’ parents.
“The Sheriff acknowledges that his officers failed to meet expectations in their response to Christian Glass when he called for assistance,” the sheriff’s apology said. “The events that transpired the night of June 10-11, 2022, that ended in Christian’s death, continue to be disturbing.”
Albers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Albers arrived on the scene shortly after Glass’ death and spoke with deputies. His agency issued a news release the following day that said Glass was “argumentative and uncooperative” and that law enforcement did everything they could to help him. Body camera footage released later contradicted the account in the news release, which other agencies involved in the shooting have criticized as being inaccurate.
Both Buen and Kyle Gould, the Clear Creek County sheriff’s sergeant who approved the decision to breach the vehicle, have been fired and criminally indicted.
The Board of County Commissioners cannot fire a sheriff. Voters would have to pursue a recall election to remove Albers from office. Albers was elected in November to his third term as sheriff and has been with the sheriff’s office since 1980.
“We understand that no amount of money can bring Christian back or ease his family’s pain,” the board said in its statement. “Christian’s killing should never have happened, and the Board is unanimously committed to doing its part to ensure that a reprehensible act like this is prevented from ever happening again.”
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