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Civil rights lawsuit to follow criminal case in death of Christian Glass

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A lawyer for the family of Christian Glass, who was killed by a Clear Creek County Sheriff deputy in June says his firm is preparing a civil rights lawsuit against five departments that were at the scene the night he was killed. 

5th Judicial District District Attorney Heidi McCollum announced Wednesday the indictments against two of the Clear Creek County deputies involved.

 Andrew Buen is charged with 2nd-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment, while Kyle Gould is charged with criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

“The parents are relieved,” said Siddhartha Rathod, an attorney for the Glass family. “Is that enough? No. Because not everyone is being held responsible.”

Rathod says he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against five departments involved at the time of the shooting likely after the first of the year, which includes: Clear Creek County, Idaho Springs Police, Georgetown Police, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Division of Gaming.

Glass called for help after his car got stuck in Silver Plume on June 11. Glass, who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD and was taking medication, also had marijuana in his system at the time of his death, indicated an autopsy.

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CBS


He told a 911 operator he had knives, a hammer and a mallet. He had them because he was an amateur geologist said Rathod. He offered to throw them out the window when deputies arrived. When they did, he was told not to do so. Deputies commanded Glass repeatedly during the hour-long confrontation to get out of the car. He did not and locked himself inside.

Eventually, they broke out a window, firing bean bags and tasing him. After an officer reached into the window behind Glass, who was still seated, turned with the knife in hand at the officer, and deputy Buen opened fire. Bodycam video does not show others firing. 

Gould was a sergeant who arrived soon after the confrontation and turned off his body camera claims Rathod.

“The indictment is part of a painful but necessary process,” said the Sheriff’s Office in a statement put out Wednesday night. “While the investigation is still underway, preliminary findings show there were policy and procedural failures,” the department said. 

“They took a young kid in crisis and they murdered him,” Rathod said. “Christian had committed no crime. They stood by and watched as other officers shot him with bean bags. Hitting him with such force that it would blow out the back window of a car. Tasing him multiple times and eventually shooting and killing him.” 

In edited recordings released by Rathod’s law firm, a Colorado State Patrol supervisor is heard telling the CSP officer on the scene, “If there’s no crime and he’s not suicidal or homicidal, or a great danger, then there’s no reason to contact him.”

“What was the reason that the officers had to have Christian out of that car? There wasn’t one,” Rathod said. “Christian hadn’t committed a crime. Christian wasn’t  a danger to himself and he wasn’t a danger to others.” 

“When you force escalation with someone with disabilities it doesn’t end well,” said Ali Thompson of Pulse Line Collaborative Training. 

Thompson trains with Colorado law enforcement on dealing with people with disabilities. After looking at the video, she noted, “I wish they had better controlled the environment and removed the overwhelming sensory stuff (some of the strobe lights, the yelling, etc.)”

“So we don’t know whether he was just scared, or whether he was having a mental health crisis,” Rathod said, who also added that Glass did not have a history of mental health crises. “There is no justification for what happened. He had committed no crime. And yet the officers treated him from the first second they arrived as a criminal.”

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