The Colorado parents say they want prosecutors to file criminal charges after their 22-year-old son was shot dead by police during an apparent mental health crisis in June.
Body camera footage released this week shows police breaking the window of Christian Glass’s car and the deputy sheriff of Clear Creek County firing five shots at Glass while he was in his car.
The accident occurred after Glass called 911 for roadside assistance in the small mountain town of Silver Plum, Colorado, about 45 miles west of Denver.
The case renews calls from advocates that police should prioritize de-escalation when responding to mental health crises, rather than responding with force.
context: Advocates say the police are not best suited to deal with the myriad of mental health calls they receive — calls that advocates say are called to law enforcement due to a lack of mental health services.
It is estimated that up to 50% of fatal encounters with law enforcement involve a person with a mental illness, according to a 2016 estimate published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In Denver and New York, behavioral health professionals are dispatched to 911 callers facing crises that police may not be trained to address or even exacerbate.
What happened in June: After Christian Glass’s death on June 11, the Clare Creek County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release saying that Glass had been shot after he became “arguably and uncooperative” and attempted to stab an officer when police smashed a car window to catch him.
But body camera footage shows Glass pleading with officers and suggesting at one point he disarm by throwing his knives out of his car window.
what is happening now: Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District, which includes Clear Creek County, said it is investigating the case with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. They plan to eventually issue a report on the shooting or take the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether indictments should be issued.
Advocates say the truce was necessary
Police have not said if any behavioral health professionals have been called for Glass.
Force use and de-escalation experts who reviewed the footage said the case is an example of a time when a behavioral health professional or a crisis response team — programs that are becoming increasingly popular across the country — may have helped calm the situation and avoid using glass. ‘ the death.
“There are some real red flags that indicate 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 killed George Floyd.
Siddhartha Rathod, a lawyer for Christian’s parents, Simon and Sally Glass, said Glass has no history of mental illness.
Senator Michael Bennett, a Democrat from Colorado, has proposed legislation aimed at helping more police departments create and fund teams that bring police officers together with mental health workers.
These efforts will use existing COPS grants — Community Policing Services Funding — that can be used for a wide range of local police efforts. Plenty of money is available to help communities recruit more officers or improve school safety.
What happened on the night of June 11th?
Body camera footage shows a deputy mayor firing five shots at Christian Glass after he shot him with a beanbag and hit him with a stun gun.
The footage shows Glass refusing to get out of his car while also telling police that he is “terrified” and making heart shapes with his hands for officers. On one occasion, he can also be seen praying with his hands folded and saying, “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”
When the officers broke the window, Glass seemed to panic and grabbed a knife.
The footage showed that the police then shot Glass with wounds from a bean bag and hit him with a stun gun before the young man twisted in his seat and pointed a knife at an officer. Then one of the officers fired his rifle, hitting the glass. The recordings then show that Glass stabbed himself before his death.
An autopsy report from the family attorney found Glass to have THC, a 0.01% blood alcohol concentration, and amphetamines in his system, the latest of which Rathod said was likely from an ADHD prescription for the glass.
“Christian was going through a crisis, and he called 911 for help,” Rathod said. “However, these officers broke Christian’s window, shot him six times with wounds from a bean bag, struck him several times with two stun guns, and then shot him five times.”
Rathod said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is dealing with the police shootings, including the Glass case, but the family wants prosecutors to file criminal charges.
The family demands accountability
At a tearful news conference on Tuesday, Christian’s mother, Sally Glass, showed off a necklace of Jesus retrieved from her son’s car engraved with the words “Pray for us.”
“We should pray for us in America to make this country less violent,” said Sally Glass. I think a lot of people would now agree that there’s a systematic problem with policing: it’s very aggressive. They escalate at every opportunity, and they seem to spoil the fight. … He should protect us, not attack us.”
Glass said her son was paralyzed and frightened the night he was killed.
“I have a hole in my heart, and it will be there until the day I die,” Glass said.
Contributing: Trevor Hughes, USA Today; News agency.