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At 16, his car was his first real taste of freedom. At the age of 22, Christian Glass died in an incident involving a former Clear Creek deputy on June 10, 2022 in the same Honda Pilot he drove on his 16th birthday.
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At 16, his car was his first real taste of freedom. At the age of 22, Christian Glass died in an event involving a former Clear Creek deputy on June 10, 2022 in the same Honda Pilot he drove on his 16th birthday.
The car that once symbolized freedom and joy to Glass became a place in his final moments of life where he was trapped and terrified at the hands of the officers.
His parents, Sally and Simon Glass, remember when their son first began driving.
“He absolutely loved it,” Sally said.
“I still remember thinking, ‘Gosh, why? It's not that big a deal, we drive you everywhere anyway,’” Simon said. “But the difference is that he could stop off and go somewhere, or change his mind or whatever I suppose, and go to the mountains. He loved driving in the mountains.”
It is memories like these that both comfort and pain the Glass family. Sally said she and Simon never had any conversations about the police with Christian because they didn’t think they needed to.
“And you know what, we never did. And obviously, obviously, we should have, because we didn't know … there was something to be scared of or that because they could be dangerous,” Sally said.
“We kind of hung our heads in shame”
A typical summer for the Glass family while Christian was growing up involved lots of summer sports and art camps, visits to family in England and evenings at home with friends and family.
“The boys would just play soccer, they play basketball or they play frisbee or they play chase. And so that was, often I would have to say, the summer evenings,” Sally said.
Sally remembers Christian playing tennis at a competitive level, so much so that he even blew out his knee at a young age. Simon recalls Christian riding his bike up and down a big hill in their neighborhood to visit friends.
“He really really loved his sports,” Sally said.
Summers will perhaps never be the same for the family, after former Clear Creek Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Buen was accused of shooting Glass five times in June 2022 after Glass phoned for help with his crashed vehicle in the small town of Silver Plume.
When Glass' parents first heard the news of their son’s death, they were led to believe he was the cause of the incident, provoking officers and inciting violence. The two were not only overcome with grief but guilt, too.
“We kind of hung our heads in shame,” Sally remembered.
Quickly, the parents felt they were missing parts of the story.
“I started thinking about it. And I was like, but, he’s never hurt anyone,” Sally said.
The family’s lawyers reviewed the bodycam footage and told the parents they believed Christian was not to blame for the incident, confirming the family’s suspicions.
The bodycam footage was released in September, and a vigil was held for Christian days later in Idaho Springs to call for action against police violence in Clear Creek County.
“No one said sorry”
The Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office dubbing Christian’s death as “the June Incident” in a press release from Oct. 5 has been a painful and dismissive gesture indicating failure of the system, according to the Glass family.
“The day that Christian Glass was killed, murdered, that's ‘the June incident.’ That's what happened. And so that's really important to name it, you know, and to say his name, and to remember him as a life lost,” Sally said.
Sally hailing from England and Simon from New Zealand gave them both different impressions of the police before coming to the United States. After this incident, they both said it would take a complete overhaul to restore a semblance of trust in law enforcement.
“I never thought the U.S. police were very nice anyway, but I didn't realize they were totally untrustworthy,” Sally said. “So I think that on top of being deeply unpleasant and aggressive, I wouldn't trust them and all Christian’s friends just said, never call the police.”
Despite the international attention Christian’s murder has garnered, Simon and Sally say they still have yet to receive a real apology from officers involved. Most of what they’ve heard has been statements from press releases expressing regret about the incident, but never taking responsibility.
“So they could, for example, come out and make a more, you know, say sorry, this is a real and full apology for what happened, which is a terrible abdication of their duty and a crime with law enforcement, people are committing crime and then covering it up,” Simon said.
“No one said sorry,” Sally said, tearfully.
“Because we wanted to be with him”
On Oct. 26 2022, the Fifth Judicial District Court announced the case would be presented to a Grand Jury.
During that time of year, Simon and Sally remember trick-or-treating with Christian and his sisters.
“They would take up pillowcases, and the pillowcases would be full. And actually what they used to love doing, because he liked kind of sorting and stuff – I think that was his logical brain – they loved trading,” Sally remembered.
On Nov. 23 2022, the Grand Jury brought down indictments against Buen and Gould, who were both subsequently let go from the Sheriff’s department.
In Novembers past, the Glass family had tried their hand at the American holiday of Thanksgiving, mainly just feasting on turkey as a family. Simon and Sally remember Christian and a girlfriend cooking dinner for them one year, but this year there was hardly an appetite with news of an impending court date.
On Dec. 4 2022, the former deputies appeared in court as defendants for the first time. Both were out on bond, and the hearing was to approve travel over the holidays for the defendants to see their family.
The Glass family explained to the judge that they too would love to spend time with their family over Christmas, but said the actions of the defendants made that impossible. The judge granted the defendants travel.
One Christmas years ago, Christian had to work on Christmas day at Starbucks. His family decided to come surprise him at work, and had Christmas dinner at the coffee shop.
“We actually went down on Christmas,” Sally said. “Because we wanted to be with him.”
Simon remembers the family ordering all sorts of seasonal drinks and treats while Christian worked behind the counter. Christian’s selfless spirit shined through even at his barista job, his parents said, as he worried about creating too much work for his coworkers.
“He felt bad for the people he was working with because we all came in and ordered all these drinks and stuff,” Sally said.
The family now clings to memories like these, as they will be unable to make new ones with their son.
On Jan. 4, 2023, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department released an investigation into the body camera footage of Christian’s murder. The department found Buen’s actions to be unjustified.
Seeing another agency call out the actions of the officers involved in Christian’s murder was important to the parents.
“So it's the first time that another agency has come out and said this is wrong. And … it'd be nice if the Clear Creek county department came out and said…” Simon trailed off.
Jan. 30, 2023 will be the next time the Glass family sees the former deputies in court. The hearing will be held at the Clear Creek County Courthouse at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.
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