The family of Christian Glass, who was killed by police officers last summer, have reached a $19 million settlement over the events leading up to his death, the largest known police settlement in Colorado.
The settlement agreement includes a number of non-economic terms around improving officer training and memorializing Glass.
The firm representing the family, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office and the towns of Idaho Springs and Georgetown all released statements May 23 announcing the settlement. Gov. Jared Polis May 24 hosted a brief press conference with the family apologizing on behalf of the state.
Glass was killed June 11, 2022, after officers responding to his 911 call opened fire when he wouldn’t get out of his vehicle. The 22-year-old was driving in Silver Plume when he got his car stuck and called for help. Officers with the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office initially responded and were later joined by officers from Colorado State Patrol, the Idaho Springs Police Department, the Colorado Division of Gaming and the Georgetown Police Department.
Following his death, Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office released statements about the nature of the shooting that were later contradicted by body camera footage released by attorneys representing Glass’ parents Sept. 13, 2022. Footage of the incident shows Glass expressing he was scared and refusing to get out of his car. After repeated attempts to get Glass to exit the vehicle and drop a knife he had in his possession, an officer fired five shots through the car’s windshield.
The footage went viral and the 5th Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum later opened a grand jury investigation of the shooting Oct. 26, 2022. Two officers involved in the shooting were indicted by the grand jury Nov. 23 and have criminal proceedings pending.
The settlement is the largest known award in Colorado against police officers. The parents of Elijah McClain, who died in 2019 after being detained by Aurora police officers, reached a $16 million settlement and a group of protesters injured by officers during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests were awarded a collective $14 million.
At a May 24 press conference, Glass’ parents said they don’t want him to be forgotten and hope to prevent similar cases in the future. “We don’t want to be swept under the carpet, we don’t want this to be forgotten, we want his spirit to live on,” said his mother, Sally Glass.
Terms of the Settlement
Under the settlement agreements with Clear Creek County, Idaho Springs, Georgetown and the state, the estate of Glass and his parents, Sally Glass and Simon Glass, released any claims arising from his death.
The majority of the settlement, $10 million, will be paid by Clear Creek County. The state of Colorado will pay $3 million, Idaho Springs $1 million and Georgetown $5 million.
On top of the settlement money, the agreements include a number of non-economic terms including public apologies from the agencies involved.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office will implement crisis intervention training for patrol officers and all officers will be certified in the training by Jan. 1, 2027, with new hires to be trained within 12 months of their assignments. Glass’ parents will also be given the opportunity to speak with new recruits at the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s office and the county will create a crisis intervention response team by Jan. 1, 2025.
Sally Glass and Simon Glass will also be involved in selecting a public park in Clear Creek County dedicated to their son. Art by Glass will be hung at the Colorado Capital and during a brief, virtual press conference, Polis apologized to the parents and dedicated the day as Christian Glass Day.
Colorado State Patrol will also develop a virtual reality training based on Glass’ death that will be used to teach officers about de-escalation and cases that involve officers from multiple jurisdictions. The state patrol will also include a three to five minute video featuring Glass’ parents at the start of its active bystander training for officers.
Along with the announcement of the settlement, government officials issued apologies around his death.
During the press conference, the governor apologized to the family. “I know that there were agents of many different law enforcement agencies there and that included several agents of the state, and what happened should not have happened,” said Polis.
In a May 23 press release, Clear Creek County Sheriff’s office wrote the events leading up to Glass’ death “continue to be disturbing” and apologized for the initial press release that mischaracterized the shooting. According to the statement, Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers and his office are taking measures to prevent future incidents like the one that led to Glass’ death including creating a county-wide crisis response, creating a citizen board to inform police procedures and policies and directing management to assess each division and improve officer training.
“These partnerships are crucial to the value of life, success and constitutional policing,” the Clear Creek County Sheriff statement said.
Multiple officials with the city of Idaho Springs also released apologies.
In a May 23 press release, Idaho Springs Police Department Chief Nate Buseck said law enforcement needs to do a better job and added the department is developing a mental health co-responder program, has trained four of its seven officers in crisis intervention and plans to train the remaining three officers by the end of the year.
“This outcome is not acceptable, and all law enforcement officers need to remember why we signed up to do this job … and that is to help people,” said Buseck.
Idaho Springs Mayor Chuck Harmon also joined the press release and apologized to the family on behalf of the city council. “We hope that settlement of this matter can provide closure to the many people involved. City leadership remains committed to the constant self-evaluation and betterment of the ISPD in all ways,” said Harmon.
An official statement from the city of Georgetown released May 23 called Glass’ death “tragic, preventable, and unnecessary.”
“Georgetown will devote the resources necessary to developing new and better ways for identifying and providing assistance to those, like Christian, who need it most,” the statement added.