6 Colo. LEOs charged with failing to intervene in fatal standoff with man in crisis
All six officers from various agencies were at the scene and failed to stop former deputy Andrew Buen from “needlessly escalating” the standoff
By Colleen Slevin
DENVER — Six Colorado law enforcement officers have been charged with failing to intervene during a standoff that ended with the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old man suffering a mental health crisis last year, prosecutors said Friday.
The announcement came a day after a former sergeant who was previously charged in the killing of Christian Glass pleaded guilty to failing to intervene, a misdemeanor crime created by state lawmakers in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd. Kyle Gould was the supervisor of the sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed Glass, Andrew Buen, after Glass called for help when his SUV got stuck on June 11, 2022.
Both Gould and Buen were indicted by a grand jury last year, after a grand jury found they needlessly escalated the standoff. Buen has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, official misconduct, and reckless endangerment.
The six other officers from various agencies who are now being prosecuted were all present at the scene and did not intervene to stop Buen, 5th Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum said in a statement on the new charges and Gould’s guilty plea.
One of the six, who used a Taser on Glass according to Gould’s indictment, was also charged with third-degree assault, which is also a misdemeanor, in addition to failing to intervene, she said.
“Law enforcement officers must be held accountable for their actions when performing their trusted public service duties,” she said.
An attorney representing Glass’ parents, Siddhartha Rathod, praised the district attorney’s decision.
“If any of these six officers would have spoken up, Christian would be alive today,” he said.
Gould was indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in Glass’ death, which prompted calls for police reforms focused on crisis intervention and led to a $19 million settlement with Glass’ parents.
Gould was not at the scene himself but talked to Buen by phone and watched what was happening using live body camera footage, according to his indictment. Prosecutors alleged Gould gave permission for Buen to remove Glass from his vehicle even though he was not suspected of having committed any crimes.
Gould was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay the maximum $1,000 fine after negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors. He is prohibited from working as a law enforcement officer again.
A conviction of failing to intervene carries a sentence of up to 364 days in jail.
Glass called for help after his SUV became stuck on a dirt road in the mountain town of Silver Plume, telling a dispatcher he was being followed and making other statements that the indictment said showed he was paranoid, hallucinating or delusional and experiencing a mental health crisis.
He refused to get out of the vehicle after law enforcement officers from several agencies arrived. Officers’ body camera footage showed Glass making heart shapes with his hands to officers and praying: “Dear Lord, please, don’t let them break the window.”
After roughly an hour of negotiations, officers decided to breach the car even though there was no indication that Glass posed a danger or was suspected of a crime, the indictment said.
Once the window was smashed, body camera footage shows officers peppering Glass with bean bag rounds, then tasing him. Glass brandished a knife in “a state of complete panic and self-defense” before twisting in his seat to thrust a knife in an officer’s direction, according to the indictment. Buen then fired his gun five times at Glass.
The grand jury found that at no point was the other officer in “imminent danger of being stabbed by Mr. Glass.”