DENVER — The family of a Colorado man shot dead by police during a mental health crisis will receive $19 million in law enforcement compensation, one of the largest such settlements in the state. United States history.
The family of Christian Glass, 22, is also forcing a series of training changes among law enforcement who were present during the incident on June 11, 2022. The settlement is the largest ever in Colorado, have family lawyers said.
The officer who shot Glass and his supervisor are facing criminal charges. The responding police departments were also criticized because none of the other officers attempted to stop the shooting.
Nationally, police departments are under pressure to change their responses to incidents like this by better integrating mental health and de-escalation training into their responses.
“This settlement sends the message that such injustice will not be tolerated and that those responsible will be held accountable, including the officers who stood by and failed to intervene to protect Christian,” the lawyers for Glass’s family in a statement. “The size of the settlement reflects the immense wrong and injustice committed by the officers who killed Christian, whose death shattered his family and left an immeasurable void.”
What happened during the filming of Christian Glass?
Glass stuck his car in a small mountain town, called 911 for help, then refused to get out of the vehicle when ordered by police.
Police initially described Glass as aggressive and threatening, but body camera footage showed him panicking before police smashed his window and shocked him with a Taser. When he took out a small knife, the police shot him five times. 911 records indicate Glass was hallucinating and had mental health issues when police arrived. As part of the settlement, law enforcement admitted to issuing an inaccurate press release.
WIRING SHOT:Colorado parents say their 22-year-old son shot dead by police was in mental health crisis
What changes are happening?
The law enforcement agencies involved have agreed to increase the amount of training they provide to officers, to partner police with mental health officers in some cases and to require officers to view recorded video Glass’s parents. Some of his works will also be displayed in state buildings, and a park near where he was shot will be dedicated in his honor. Agents from multiple agencies responded to Glass’ car in support of each other, court documents show, but poor communication between them meant no one was taking matters into their own hands, particularly in an attempt to defuse the situation.
“I have three teenagers and a young adult. I cannot imagine the agony and pain the Glass family is going through losing Christian,” Idaho Springs Police Chief Nate Buseck said in a statement. “We in law enforcement , have to do a much, much better job. This outcome is not acceptable, and all law enforcement officers need to remember why we signed up to do this job…and it’s to help people.”
What are the national implications?
Civil rights lawyers say they are using the cases to force needed changes within police departments, in part by making training and protocol reviews a mandatory part of regulations.
Last year, the Denver suburb of Aurora agreed to pay a $15 million settlement following the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, a black man who was knocked to the ground, choked and injected with a sedated after someone reported that he looked suspicious while walking down the street. As part of this settlement, several agencies have agreed to modify their training and response protocols.
And in 2021, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to family members of George Floyd, who was murdered by a police officer. This settlement also necessitated training and changes in police response.