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Jury urged to convict former Colorado deputy of murder in Christian Glass shooting

DENVER — Prosecutors on Wednesday urged jurors to convict a former Colorado sheriff’s deputy of murder and other charges for shooting and killing a 22-year-old man in distress after they say the deputy needlessly escalated a standoff with him.

The 2022 death of Christian Glass in a small mountain community drew national attention and prompted calls for police reforms focused on crisis intervention. A second officer indicted in Glass’ death previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Another six officers who were on scene have also been charged with failing to intervene.

Glass called 911 for help after his SUV became stuck on a dirt road in the mountain town of Silver Plume. He told a dispatcher he was being followed and made other statements suggesting he was paranoid, hallucinating or delusional, and experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the indictments.

When former Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Buen and other officers arrived, Glass refused to get out of his vehicle. Officers’ body camera footage showed Glass making heart shapes with his hands to the officers and praying: “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”

In closing arguments in Buen’s trial, prosecutors said Buen decided from the start that Glass needed to get out of the vehicle and shouted commands at him 46 times over about 10 minutes. The prosecution contends Buen did not have any legal justification to force Glass out, not even if it was a suspected case of driving under the influence.

After being hit with bean bag rounds and Tasers failed to make Glass exit, Glass took a knife he had offered to surrender at the beginning of the encounter and flung it out a rear window broken by a bean bag toward another officer, Randy Williams, according to Buen’s indictment. At that point, Buen fired five times at Glass.

Glass just reacted after being treated “like an animal in a cage being poked and prodded,” and the knife never touched Williams, District Attorney Heidi McCollum said in court in Idaho Springs.

The defense argued Buen was trying to protect Williams when he fired, that the shooting was legally justified and that he should be acquitted. Buen’s lawyer, Carrie Slinkard, faulted prosecutors for not looking into whether Glass had behavioral or psychological issues that could explain his behavior, whether drugs had played a role, or whether both factors could have contributed.

Buen is charged with second-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment.

Glass’ mother, Sally Glass, has said her son suffered from depression, had recently been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and was “having a mental health episode” during his interaction with the police.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Potts, who described Glass as a “terrified boy”, said it did not matter what prompted the crisis.

“He was in a crisis of some kind. Is this how we expect people in crisis to be treated? he said shortly before jurors began deliberating.

Last year, Glass’ parents won a $19 million settlement that included such policy changes as crisis intervention training for Colorado law enforcement officers responding to people in distress.

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