Police shooting death of Colorado man in crisis draws review

Oct 27, 2022, 8:42 AM | Updated: 2:21 pm

FILE - Simon and Sally Glass comfort each other during an emotional news conference about the death...

FILE - Simon and Sally Glass comfort each other during an emotional news conference about the death of their son, Christian Glass, Sept. 13, 2022, in Denver. Prosecutors say a grand jury will investigate the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Christian Glass, who had called 911 for roadside assistance and was experiencing a crisis. The Glass family last month called for accountability over a situation in which they believe officers escalated the situation, needlessly leading to their son's death. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, File)

(AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, File)

DENVER (AP) — A grand jury will investigated the death of a 22-year-old Colorado man who was shot by police after calling 911 for roadside assistance while experiencing what his mother described as a mental health crisis.

The development announced by prosecutors late Wednesday comes after the parents of Christian Glass last month called for accountability, saying they believe officers needlessly escalated the June 10 situation in the small mountain town of Silver Plume west of Denver, leading to their son’s death.

Glass’ death has become the latest flashpoint amid a national outcry for police reforms focused on crisis intervention, de-escalation and alternative policing programs. In Denver and New York, behavioral health specialists are sent to 911 callers facing crises that police may not be trained to address or could exacerbate.

During a September news conference, Sally Glass said her son suffered from depression, had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and was “having a mental health episode” during his interaction with the police. Glass said her son was “petrified” and “paralyzed” by fear the night he was killed.

In a statement, Glass’ parents welcomed the grand jury investigation, saying the “wheels of justice are turning in the right direction.”

“There is not an hour that passes that we do not think about our gentle son Christian Glass. We are expecting accountability for those involved in his murder,” Sally and Simon Glass said.

The new probe was announced by Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum, who said the grand jury was empaneled Tuesday and will meet several times during November.

The shooting has already been investigated by a team of agencies led by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The results of such investigations are usually not released until after prosecutors decide whether to pursue charges.

“This is a step in the right direction, but the community has a long way to go to get justice for Christian,” said Siddhartha Rathod, attorney for Glass’ parents.

Glass called the police because his car had become stuck on an embankment late on June 10. Body camera videos show Glass refusing to get out of his car while telling police he is “terrified” and making heart shapes with his hands to officers.

Officers talked to him to try to persuade him to leave the car. After more than an hour of negotiations, police said Glass was being uncooperative and they broke the passenger window and removed a knife from the vehicle.

Glass offered to throw two knives out of the window but the video shows officers telling him not to.

Once the window was shattered, Glass seemed to panic and grabbed a second knife. Police then shot Glass with bean bag rounds and shocked him with a stun gun. The footage shows Glass twisting in his seat and thrusting a knife toward an officer who approaches the rear driver window. Then another officer fired his gun, hitting Glass six times, according to the autopsy report.

Use-of-force and de-escalation experts who reviewed the footage for The Associated Press said this case is an example of when a behavioral health specialist or crisis response team — programs becoming increasingly popular across the country — may have helped de-escalate the situation and avert Glass’ death.

The grand jury can issue subpoenas compelling people to testify under oath, and review the evidence already gathered. If the evidence warrants it, they can issue an indictment, McCollum said.

“It is imperative that we reach the right decision and not rush into judgement — in fairness to the family of the victim, and those involved with and impacted by Christian’s death. Most of all, I am absolutely committed to seeking justice in this case,” she said.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis offered his condolences last month during a private meeting with Glass’ parents.

While Taylor Pendergrass, director of advocacy at the ACLU of Colorado, applauds the grand jury investigation, he said he believes the body camera footage is evidence enough for the district attorney to have skipped the grand jury and brought indictments directly.

“They created and then escalated a confrontation that, if they had just walked away from, would have been resolved,” he said, “this was an entirely preventable death.”

Clear Creek County, where the shooting occurred, is in the early stages of developing an alternative policing program.

County Commissioner Randy Wheelock said the Glass case was one of many nationwide that encouraged authorities to “try to increase the level of resources available.”

The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.


Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

23 hours ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

8 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

9 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

11 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

11 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Police shooting death of Colorado man in crisis draws review