Christian Glass’ family demands responsibility after death

Police who shot dead a 22-year-old Colorado man after he called 911 for roadside assistance escalated the situation, unnecessarily resulting in his death, the man’s relatives said in a tearful news conference Tuesday demanding accountability.

Following the death of Christian Glass on June 11 in the small mountain town of Silver Plume west of Denver, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release stating that Glass was shot after he became “quarrelsome and uncooperative.” trying to stab a police officer broke a car window to grab him.

“Christian went through a crisis and called 911 for help,” said parents’ attorney Siddhartha Rathod, “and yet these officers broke in from Christian’s window, shot him six times with bean bags, and verbally abused him with two tasers several times, and then shot him five times.”

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation handles police shootings, including the Glass case, but the family wants prosecutors to file criminal charges, Rathod said.

Heidi McCollum, District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which includes Clear Creek County, released a statement Tuesday that her office is investigating the case along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Her office plans to eventually issue a report on the shooting or bring the case to a grand jury, which would decide whether charges should be filed, McCollum said.

Videos shared with The Associated Press show Glass refusing to get out of his car while telling police he is “terrified” and making heart shapes with his hands for officers. At one point he can also be seen praying with his hands folded and saying, “Dear God, please don’t let them break the window.”

Attorneys Qusair Mohamedbhai, left, and Siddhartha Rathod face questions during an emotional news conference
Siddhartha Rathod (right) said Christian Glass had no history of mental illness.

As officers smashed the window, Glass appeared to panic and reached for a knife.

Police then shot Glass with bean bags and shocked him with a stun gun before the young man turned in his seat and thrust a knife toward an officer, footage showed. An officer then fired his gun, hitting Glass. The footage then shows Glass stabbing himself before he died.

The family said the videos were only edited to blur the body. The AP has asked police to provide any videos related to the case.

Rathod said Glass had no history of mental illness. When asked about Glass’s anomalous behavior, he said, “Unfortunately, we will never know.”

Sally Glass wears a Jesus and Mary pendant during a press conference
Police have not said whether behavioral medicine specialists were contacted during the crisis.

Rathod released an autopsy report stating that Glass died of gunshot wounds. He was said to have THC, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01% and amphetamine in his system, the last of which likely came from an ADHD prescription for Glass, Rathod said.

The shooting comes amid a national outcry for police reforms focused on crisis intervention, de-escalation and alternative policing programs. In Denver and New York, behavioral health professionals are dispatched to 911 callers who are facing crises that police may not be trained to handle or could even get worse.

Police have not said whether behavioral medicine specialists were called for Glass.

Experts on the use of force and de-escalation, who reviewed the footage for The Associated Press, said this case is an example of when a behavioral medicine doctor or crisis response team — programs that are growing in popularity across the country — might have helped de-escalate the situation and Glass ‘ Avert death.

“There are some real red flags of potential problems,” said Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and leading expert on the use of force who reviewed portions of the footage. Stoughton testified at the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd.

While law enforcement officers may be entitled to use force once a situation has escalated, “it’s anything we do before then in terms of de-escalation that can cause those situations to take a completely different direction,” said Tamara Lynn, the CEO of the National De-Escalation Training Center, which reviewed the footage.

In particular, both Lynn and Stoughton questioned why officers didn’t accept Glass’s offer, which was captured by body camera footage, to disarm himself by throwing his knives out of his car window.

While a thrown knife can pose a threat, “officials have ample opportunity to maneuver themselves and put themselves in a position that is not risky,” Stoughton said. “I’m kind of amazed they didn’t take what seemed like a very clear opportunity to get him to disarm.”

Similarly, Stoughton wondered why they had to break the car window. He said police didn’t have all day to call, but asked if it was necessary.

“I don’t realize it should have gone that far,” he said.

In tears, Christian’s mother Sally Glass on Tuesday showed a pendant of Jesus recovered from her son’s car, engraved with the words “Pray for us.”

“We need to pray for us in America to make this a less violent country,” said Sally Glass. “I think a lot of people would now agree that there’s a systemic problem with policing: it’s too aggressive. They escalate at every opportunity and it looks like they’re about to engage in a fight. … They should protect us, not attack.”

Glass said her son was “petrified” and “paralyzed” with fear the night he was killed.

“I have a hole in my heart and it will stay there until the day I die,” Glass said. Christian Glass’ family demands responsibility after death


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