Two Colorado sheriff’s deputies have been indicted in connection with the fatal shooting in June of a 22-year-old Boulder man, Christian Glass, who had called 911 for help when his SUV became stuck on a mountain road at night, prosecutors said.
The office of Heidi McCollum, the Clear Creek County district attorney, announced the indictment of the two deputies, Andrew Buen and Kyle Gould, on Wednesday. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that the deputies had been fired because of the indictment.
Buen was charged with second-degree murder, official misconduct and reckless endangerment, prosecutors said in a statement. Gould was charged with criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. The statement did not list a lawyer for either deputy and neither could immediately be reached for comment.
Arrest warrants were issued for both men, who were expected to appear in court in mid-December, prosecutors said. Buen’s bond was set at $50,000 and Gould’s bond was set at $2,500, prosecutors said.
Glass was killed on the night of June 10, after he called 911 when his Honda Pilot got stuck on an embankment on a mountain road near Silver Plume, a former silver mining camp in the Rocky Mountains, about 45 miles west of Denver.
Roughly a half-dozen officers responded to the call and negotiated with Glass for more than an hour. Body camera footage shows the officers asking him to drop a knife, and then using a stun gun and firing beanbag rounds at him when he does not follow their orders. His mother, Sally Glass, has said her son was having a “mental health episode.”
The Sheriff’s Office initially said that Christian Glass had tried to stab one of the law enforcement officers, who had “tried to bring the situation to a peaceful resolution.”
Lawyers for Glass’ family, Siddhartha Rathod and Qusair Mohamedbhai, said that the officers had used unnecessarily aggressive tactics. In September, the lawyers released audio of the 911 call and radio transmissions, as well as body camera footage from the responding officers.
The material detailed what happened after Glass called 911. Glass told a dispatcher that his vehicle was stuck in a “trap,” that he was coming out of a depression, that he feared “skinwalkers” and that he needed help.
A dispatcher asked Glass if he had weapons and Glass said that he had knives, a hammer and a rubber mallet with him. Glass’ family said that Glass was an amateur geologist and used the equipment as tools. He told the dispatcher that he would keep his hands visible when officers arrived.
“I understand that this is a dodgy situation for you guys as well,” he said. He also said he was afraid to get out of the car.
The dispatcher told law enforcement agencies that Glass was “very paranoid” and “not making much sense.”
Video footage shows that roughly half a dozen officers arrived and nearly surrounded the vehicle while Glass stayed inside.
He did not open the SUV’s door or window, unlock the vehicle or get out, as officers requested. At one point, he turned to the closed window, cupping his hands in a heart-shaped gesture at the officers.
The negotiations lasted more than an hour, and toward the end, an officer broke the SUV’s driver’s side window and ordered Glass to “drop the knife.”
Glass continued to hold a knife and officers continued to order him to drop it, firing beanbag rounds at Glass and using a stun gun on him.
Glass twisted in his seat and swung an arm at the broken window, toward an approaching officer, and gunshots were fired, the videos show. An autopsy report said Glass had six gunshot wounds. The report also noted that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in Glass’ system, along with amphetamine that, according to a doctor who spoke to The Denver Post, was commensurate with medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Buen was initially placed on administrative leave after the shooting, pending the outcome of an investigation, and was back working in September, Bruce Snelling, the undersheriff at the time, told The New York Times that month. Buen had been on the force for about five or six years, most recently in the patrol division, and had no record of disciplinary issues, Snelling said.
On Wednesday, after the indictment was made public, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office moved swiftly to fire Buen and Gould, even though an investigation of the shooting by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office had not concluded.
“While the investigation is still underway,” the office said in its statement, “preliminary findings show there were policy and procedural failures, and the initial news release about the shooting, based on the information available at the time of the incident, does not reflect the entirety of what happened on that terrible night.”
At a news conference in September, Glass’ mother, Sally Glass, said that her son loved to take long drives in the mountains, that he was an artist and that he was struggling with his mental health the night he was killed.
“He was just too scared to get out of his car,” she said.
In a statement responding to the indictment, the family’s lawyers said Glass’ parents were “relieved appropriate charges have been brought against some of those responsible for the murder of their son.”
“However, justice for Christian will require all those involved being held accountable,” the statement said. “Christian’s death is a stain on every officer who was present and failed to prevent the escalation and unnecessary uses of force.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.