Parents of Christian Glass want police to 'show some humanity,' after reaching historic settlement
Christian Glass, 22, was killed by a sheriff's deputy in Colorado in 2022
Sally Glass says her son Christian was a gentle person and a "sensitive soul" — and when she thinks about the night he was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy in Colorado, she imagines he must have been so scared.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the Glass family announced they had reached a $19 million US ($25 million Cdn) settlement with Clear Creek County, the State of Colorado, the Town of Georgetown, and the City of Idaho Springs. It's the largest known settlement for a police killing in Colorado.
On June 11, 2022, Christian's SUV got stuck by the mountain town of Silver Plume. He was in mental distress and called police. According to officers' body cam footage when they arrived, he told them he was scared and refused to get out of the car. They eventually smashed the window and tasered him. When he grabbed a knife, an officer shot him five times.
At one point, from inside the car, Christian put his hands up to the window in the shape of a heart.
"They just had no humanity. They had no sympathy for what Christian was going through," father Simon Glass said in an interview with As It Happens guest host Helen Mann, along with his wife Sally.
"They just murdered a really good kid … a really sweet, kind kid," said Sally.
In November 2022, a grand jury indicted two former officers, sheriff's deputy Andrew Buen and his supervisor Kyle Gould. Buen is charged with second-degree murder. Gould is charged with criminally negligent homicide. They have not yet been tried.
"Any of the seven officers there could have stopped this simply by saying something. They want to empower law enforcement to have this courage," family lawyer Siddhartha H. Rathod told The Associated Press.
In addition to the financial compensation, the settlement also includes changes to policing in Colorado.
Clear Creek County, where Christian Glass was killed, will establish a crisis response team and its sheriff's office will train and certify all deputies in crisis intervention.
The state of Colorado, which had three officers on the scene of Glass's killing in addition to those from local agencies, will create a virtual reality training scenario for the Colorado State Patrol based on the shooting. It will focus on de-escalation in stressful situations involving officers from different agencies. The program focuses on encouraging officers to intervene if they think a fellow officer is going too far or needs to step away from an incident.
"When you're managing a police force, you need to know who you're employing, you need to know that they are good people, you need to know that they can show some humanity when needed, that they'll behave appropriately, and that they'll keep each other in line, and that when something goes wrong, they'll report it. And I think that is the key thing that I think is missing here," said Simon
At a press conference Wednesday, flanked by Sally and Simon and some pieces of Christian's art, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared it Christian Glass Day.
"On behalf of the state, we want to apologize for what happened to Christian. I know that there were agents of many different law enforcement agencies there, but that included several agents of the state. And what happened should not have happened," Polis said, during the press conference.
A young life cut short
Before his death, Christian and his parents were finalizing plans for him to do a coding boot camp. He planned to code to support himself financially, so he could spend his free hours pursuing his art.
"His passion really was art," said his mom. "He was honestly getting better and better."
"His sister saw one of his pieces and was like, 'Christian, can I buy that from you?' And he said, 'You don't have to give me money.' She's like, 'No, I'll give you 50 bucks for that.' And he was so proud."
He liked cooking and tennis too. He was also a rock collector, which is why, his dad said, he had knives in his car the night of his death.
"I just feel so lost and bereft. And then I remember him and remember how much he loved his painting and his art. And then that makes me smile. So [my mind is] kind of all over the place, really," said Sally.
"He realized that, you know, there should just be more love in the world.... He just had love and kindness in his heart."
With files from The Associated Press. Interview with Sally and Simon Glass produced by Kate Swoger.