Parents of US man killed by police during mental health crisis to get $19m | Colorado

The parents of a 22-year-old Colorado man in a mental health crisis killed by police are to receive $19m from government state and local agencies while prompting changes to how officers are trained under a settlement announced on Tuesday.

The shooting of Christian Glass by the Clear Creek county sheriff’s office after Glass’s SUV became stuck in the mountain town of Silver Plume last year drew national attention and prompted calls to reform how authorities respond to people with mental health problems.

As part of the settlement, Sally and Simon Glass also negotiated for changes they hope will prevent another family from suffering a loss like theirs. Clear Creek will establish a crisis response team, and its sheriff’s office will train and certify all deputies in crisis intervention, according to documents released by their attorneys.

The state of Colorado, which had three officers on the scene of Glass’s 11 June 2022 killing, in addition to those from local agencies, will create a virtual reality training scenario for the Colorado state patrol based on the shooting that will focus on de-escalation in stressful situations involving officers from different agencies.

A video message from Simon and Sally Glass will also be shown to state troopers and division of gaming officers at the beginning of their active bystander training. 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 encounter.

There was no indication from body-camera footage that officers from other agencies attempted to stop the breach of the vehicle before Christian Glass was shot.

An attorney for the Glasses, Siddhartha Rathod, said they hope hearing their story will help officers have the strength to intervene if necessary.

“Any of the seven officers there could have stopped this simply by saying something,” he said of the shooting. “They want to empower law enforcement to have this courage.”

The settlement, which the communities of Georgetown and Idaho Springs also joined, is the largest for a police killing in Colorado, topping the $15m settlement reached in 2021 for the death of Elijah McClain, and also ranks among the top in the US, Rathod said.

His law firm, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, also represented the mother of McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after police in the Denver suburb of Aurora forcibly restrained him and a paramedic injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.

Former Clear Creek sheriff’s deputy Andrew Buen, who shot Glass, and his supervisor, ex-sergeant Kyle Gould, are both being prosecuted in Glass’s death.

A grand jury found they needlessly escalated the standoff after he called 911 for help. Gould was not at the scene but was watching events unfold on body-camera footage and authorized officers to remove Glass from his vehicle, according to court documents.

Lawyers for both officers unsuccessfully tried to get the charges against them thrown out. While Buen’s lawyer objected to how information was presented to the grand jury, Gould’s lawyer argued that Glass needed to be evaluated for drugs, alcohol and mental health problems and could not just be allowed to leave.

Glass, whose car became stuck on a dirt road, initially told the dispatcher that he was being followed and made other statements which the indictment said showed he was paranoid, hallucinating or delusional and experiencing a mental health crisis.

Officers’ body-camera footage showed Glass refusing to get out of his car, making heart shapes with his hands to officers and praying: “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”

After roughly an hour of negotiations, officers decided to breach the car even though there was no indication that Glass posed a danger or was suspected of a crime, according to the grand jury.

Once the window was smashed, body-camera footage shows officers peppering Glass with bean bag rounds, then using a Taser on him. Glass brandished a knife in “a state of complete panic and self-defense” before twisting in his seat to thrust a knife in an officer’s direction, according to the grand jury. Buen then fired his gun five times into Glass.

The grand jury found that at no point was the other officer imminently in danger of being stabbed by Glass.

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