Two Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputies involved in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man who appeared to be having a mental health episode in his car have been fired, the sheriff’s office announced late Wednesday.
The terminations of officers Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould came the same day they were indicted by a grand jury in what the sheriff’s office called a “painful but necessary process.”
Buen was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment. Gould was indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. Bond was set at $50,000 for Buen and $2,500 for Gould. The indictments are sealed.
Christian Glass was shot to death inside his car June 11 after he became stranded in the small mountain town of Silver Plume and called for roadside assistance. Officers broke out his window, shot him six times with bean bag rounds, used a Taser multiple times and then shot him five times, according to his family’s attorney.
Glass’ death raised questions about how law enforcement responds to 911 calls involving someone who is having a mental health crisis. The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office said Glass became “argumentative and uncooperative” and tried to stab an officer. Video from the encounter, though, shows that Glass, who made a heart with his hands toward the officers and said he was terrified, never got out of his car.
In addition to the grand jury investigation, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has been conducting an internal investigation at the request of Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers.
That internal investigation is not yet complete, but preliminary findings show that “there were policy and procedural failures” the night Glass died, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office said in its late-night news release sent just before the Thanksgiving holiday. That investigation also has found that the sheriff’s office’s initial news release about the shooting did “not reflect the entirety of what happened on that terrible night,” the statement said.
In September, Glass’ parents, through their attorney, released body camera video from the night their son was killed, conflicting the previous law enforcement description of what had occurred.
In his statement Wednesday, the sheriff committed to “make any necessary changes to try and prevent a terrible situation like this from happening in the future” and to increase public trust in the department. He called Glass’ death a “devastating event for Christian’s family, friends, the Clear Creek County community and the sheriff’s office.”
Glass called 911 after he drove off a dirt road and said his car was stuck. Officers who responded, lights flashing in the dark, asked him repeatedly to get out of the car. “You don’t need to be terrified,” one said. “We’re out here to try and help you and have a conversation.”
Over the radio, Colorado State Patrol asks what the deputies’ plan is, before saying that if Glass is not suicidal, homicidal or posing danger there is no reason to contact him. “My sergeant says there’s no point contacting him if he’s not a harm to himself or anyone else, then no crime,” an officer said.
But the interaction escalated as Glass refused to get out of the car or roll down the window. Officers threatened to break the window and Glass, who had a knife, threatened to kill them if they didn’t leave him alone. One officer got on the hood of the vehicle, pointing a gun and bright light at Glass. After about an hour, officers broke the window and Glass grabbed a knife. Officers shot him with bean bags and a stun gun, and Glass screamed as he was being pelted and hit with a Taser.
The video shows Glass, still in the driver’s seat, thrusting a knife toward an officer. He’s shot five times, and Glass stabbed himself before he died.