Christian Glass’s parents flee courtroom before distressing police bodycam footage of his killing

Glass, 22, was killed after calling 911 for help when his car became stuck off a dirt road in Colorado

Sheila Flynn
in Georgetown, Colorado
Monday 15 April 2024 23:44 BST
Body cam shows moments before police shooting of Christian Glass
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The distraught parents of Christian Glass left the courtroom on Monday moments before prosecutors played graphic bodycam footage from the sheriff’s deputy charged with murdering their son.

Glass, 22, was killed in June 2022, less than two hours after calling 911 when his car became stuck off a rural dirt road late at night near the tiny mining town of Silver Plume, about 47 miles west of Denver, Colorado.

Former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s deputy Andrew Buen has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, reckless endangerment and first-degree official misconduct in connection with Glass’s killing.

Buen was the first officer to arrive on scene with his partner. Six officers from five different law enforcement agencies arrived later.

On Monday morning, Sally and Simon Glass exited the courtroom before the 13 women and two men in the jury box were shown Buen’s bodycam footage from the night. One juror subtly shook her head and stared open-mouthed as the footage played.

Christian Glass, 22, was killed on 10 June, 2022 after calling 911 for help when his car became stuck on a rural road (The Glass Family)

Jurors were shown almost the entirety of the footage, with prosecutors ending the tape after Glass’s body was pulled from the driver’s seat of his car.

Soon after Buen and shift partner Deputy Tim Collins arrived, Glass can be heard asking in the video whether they are going to shoot him. He also requests they tow his vehicle to the police station, telling officers he is scared to leave the car while visibly terrified.

Instead, Buen demands repeatedly that Glass exit the vehicle.

Officers spend more than an hour trying to convince Glass to get out, offering everything from food and drinks to cigarettes. He makes heart shapes with his hands and shows off rocks and crystals in the car that he has gathered as an amateur geologist.

“I see you doing the heart thing with your hands; we love you too,” Idaho Springs Police Officer Brittany Morrow tells him. “We just want you to be safe.”

Georgetown Marshal Randy Williams, who also spends significant time trying to coax Christian gently from the car, tells him: “We’re not going to give you a hard time” – later adding: “You’re not scaring me ... we’re just worried about you.”

It’s not long, however, before the situation esalates as officers try to break windows and remove Christian from the car, using tasers, bean bag rounds and shouted orders. Glass, during the effort, thrashes around, grabs a small knife and begins gesturing towards an officer from inside the vehicle. Shots can be heard on the bodycam footage.

Glass was pronounced dead at the scene.

The bodycam also included a muted “private” phone call between Buen and Sgt Kyle Gould, who was supervising remotely, and gave the order to breach the vehicle.

Body camera footage worn by Colorado officers show law enforcement’s interaction with Christian Glass, 22, during which his family believes he was suffering a mental health episode (Glass family lawyers/video screengrab)

Gould pleaded guilty last year to lesser charges and has been stripped of his peace officer certification. The six other officers on scene have been charged with duty to intervene - essentially failure to stop the escalation of events.

Buen, who was terminated from the department following the charges, wore a collared shirt and dark suit to court on Monday. Clean shaven with thick-rimmed eye glasses, he alternately watched the bodycam footage, took notes and sipped water,

The video was played during the second day of the trial. During opening arguments on Friday, prosecutors told jurors that Buen had seemed intent from the outset upon getting Christian out of the vehicle, acting in an “aggressive, excessive and criminal manner” despite verbally acknowledging there had been a car crash and there was likely an ongoing mental crisis.

Buen’s defence lawyers questioned Glass’s sobriety and argued that the responding officers had to consider public safety.

Christian Glass smiles with his parents, Sally and Simon Glass, from England and New Zealand, respectively (The Glass Family)

Friday’s opening arguments were followed by testimony from 911 operator Paige Kincaid, and the call that Glass made. Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Derek Graham, who interviewed Buen in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, took the stand on Monday.

That videotaped interview was also shown to jurors on Monday. In it, Buen tells Graham that Christian was initially compliant but describes the 22-year-old’s mood as a “rollercoaster.” He says he saw Christian, in the driver seat, gesturing with the knife in his right hand – back over his left shoulder towards a broken out back window, near Williams’ position.

“I was in fear that Williams was gonna get caught with that blade,” Buen says in the interview, though he also admits he never saw Williams actually within Christian’s vehicle.

Jurors on Monday were also shown body cam footage from Collins, who was on the hood of the car for portions of the events.

Other witnesses expected to testify include Christian Glass’s mother, and a use of force expert who testified in the George Floyd case.

The trial took recess for the evening at 4.30pm. It is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

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