In a candlelit moment of silence to honor Christian Glass’s life, his mother thought of him as a child — how he dressed up as an artist for elementary school career day, how he obsessively tried to figure out how things work, how he was always so happy.
Sally Glass thanked the dozens of Clear Creek County residents and Glass’s friends who gathered at a vigil Tuesday night in Idaho Springs to honor her 22-year-old son’s life. Then she called for accountability for the deputy who killed him and change in policing so no other mother would suffer the loss she had.
“Because we can’t bring him back,” she said.
A Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Glass, 22, on June 11. Glass called 911 for help after crashing his car while experiencing an episode of paranoia. Seven officers from five agencies tried for an hour to get Glass, who repeatedly said he was afraid, to step out of the car before they decided to break one of the car’s windows. The shattering window prompted Glass to pick up a knife and officers responded by Tasing him and shooting him with less-lethal bean bags. Deputy Andrew Buen shot and killed Glass after Glass twisted in the driver’s seat and stabbed toward an officer standing outside the broken backseat window.
Experts told The Denver Post that the responding officers failed to de-escalate and needlessly rushed to break the window despite the fact that Glass hadn’t committed a crime.
Residents of Clear Creek County at the vigil agreed.
“Christian Glass deserved better on that day,” said Lisa Stamm of Idaho Springs. “He should not be dead.”
Friends of Glass described him as a sweet young man who chose his words carefully and listened intently. He was courageous in his vulnerability and willingness to share his authentic feelings, said Zigy Kaluzny.
Mothers with sons about Glass’s age said at the vigil that their son could’ve easily been in Glass’s place.
“It could be my kids,” said Autumn Brooks, who helped organize the vigil. “It could be my kids. No more. No more pain should be brought by our law enforcement.”
Community members called on Sheriff Rick Albers to hold accountable Buen and the other deputy on scene. His silence on the incident was deafening, one man shouted.
Albers has not returned Denver Post emails or calls for comment over the past two weeks.
Others demanded that Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum charge Buen in Glass’s killing. Cynthia Flageolle said McCollum failed her family by not more harshly prosecuting the Idaho Springs police officer who Tased her unarmed 75-year-old father. Her father nearly died and lost his ability to live independently. The officer was sentenced to probation.
“You failed my father and we are here again,” she said.
Organizers of the rally asked Clear Creek County residents to contact the sheriff, the district attorney and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the inquiry into Glass’s killing. If the elected leaders cannot hold the officers accountable, they should be voted out, the organizers said.
“It takes our leaders but it also takes every single one of us in this community,” said Helen Patz-Perrone of Idaho Springs.
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