Clear Creek County commissioners say the county sheriff has not “adequately accepted responsibility” after one of his deputies shot and killed Christian Glass as he sat inside his car while experiencing a mental health crisis and the board vowed “to do all it can” to reform the office.
The declaration came during a meeting Tuesday morning when the board accused Sheriff Rick Albers of failing to fill gaps in training that led to Glass’ death last year after the 22-year-old called 911 from his car that got stuck in the small mountain town of Silver Plume.
“The Board embraces its responsibility to do all it can, within its authority, to accomplish reforms that enable the Sheriff to better focus on his core mission of public safety and justice,” Commissioner Randy Wheelock said, reading a prepared 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.”
The new signs of tension come as Christian Glass’ parents, Sally and Simon Glass, urged Albers to step down, saying he has refused to accept responsibility for their son’s death. Former Clear Creek County deputy Andrew Buen and his supervisor, former Sgt. Kyle Gould face criminal charges in Glass’ death.
A grand jury found they needlessly escalated the situation after Glass called 911 for help and that the officers were in no imminent danger. Gould was not at the scene, but was watching events unfold on body camera footage and authorized officers to remove Glass from his car, court documents said.
“Sheriff Albers’ refusal to accept any personal responsibility for this unjustifiable loss of life demonstrates a lack of leadership and disregard for the trust placed in him by the community,” Sally and Simon Glass said in a statement released by their attorney Tuesday morning. “By resigning, Sheriff Albers can begin to acknowledge and take responsibility for the failures that occurred under his watch. Only then can we begin to rebuild the shattered trust between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to protect.”
Albers declined to comment.
As an elected sheriff, Albers has control over his office’s procedures and training. While the county commissioners do not have authority to order protocols, they determine the level of funding that the office receives, according to county spokeswoman Megan Hiler.
Under a historic $19 million settlement agreement announced last month, Glass’ parents negotiated for changes they hope will prevent another family from suffering a loss like theirs. Clear Creek County will form a crisis response team and its sheriff’s office will train and certify all deputies in crisis intervention.
The pilot for the county’s mental health co-responder program will launch this summer with grant funds and staffing allocated by the Board of County Commissioners, the board said Tuesday.
The board is also pursuing a partnership with a regional communications center that has experience with co-responder programs, training and protocols that will help first responders differentiate between mental health crises and public safety concerns.
Other changes under the settlement include a virtual reality training scenario for the Colorado State Patrol based on the June 11, 2022, shooting that will focus on de-escalation that involve officers from different agencies.
There was no sign during body camera footage that officers from other agencies tried to stop the breach of Christian Glass’ car before he was shot multiple times with a Taser and then five times with a gun.