Former Colorado Sheriff’s Deputy Convicted in Shooting Death of 22-Year-Old Man Seeking Help

A former Colorado sheriff’s deputy’s recent conviction has sparked discussions around police crisis intervention and use of force. The deputy, Andrew Buen, faced charges in the shooting death of 22-year-old Christian Glass, who had sought help after his car got stuck in a small mountain community. While Buen was acquitted of second-degree murder and official misconduct, he was found guilty of reckless endangerment.

The incident, which occurred in 2022, attracted national attention and raised concerns about law enforcement’s handling of individuals in mental health crises. Prosecutors argued that Buen unnecessarily escalated the situation with Glass, who was exhibiting signs of distress. Conversely, the defense maintained that Buen acted to protect a fellow officer, justifying the use of lethal force.

Buen’s case is not isolated, as six other officers have been charged with failing to intervene in Glass’ death. District Attorney Heidi McCollum retains the option to pursue further charges against Buen for murder and official misconduct. The impending decision will carry significant weight in the ongoing quest for justice for Glass.

Glass’ family’s attorney, Siddharta Rathod, expressed the family’s desire for the prosecution to proceed, emphasizing the criminal nature of Buen’s actions. The jury’s verdict on reckless endangerment marks a crucial step towards holding Buen accountable and seeking justice for Glass’s tragic death.

Throughout the trial, details emerged of Glass’s plea for help and subsequent interaction with law enforcement. Despite exhibiting signs of paranoia and distress, Glass faced escalating commands from Buen to exit his vehicle. The use of less-lethal methods, such as bean bag rounds and a Taser, failed to de-escalate the situation, ultimately leading to Buen firing fatal shots at Glass.

The defense underscored the need to consider Glass’s mental health and potential underlying issues contributing to his behavior. Glass’s mother revealed his struggles with depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, shedding light on the complexity of addressing individuals in crisis situations. Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Potts emphasized the importance of humane treatment for individuals experiencing mental health episodes.

As the legal proceedings continue, the case prompts reflection on the intersection of law enforcement, crisis intervention, and mental health support. The outcome of Buen’s trial will likely impact future protocols for handling similar situations and ensuring accountability within law enforcement agencies.