Ex-sergeant pleads guilty to failing to stop fatal standoff with man in mental health crisis

DENVER (AP) — One of two Colorado law enforcement officers accused of needlessly escalating a standoff that led to the death of a 22-year-old man suffering a mental health crisis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on Thursday and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Kyle Gould pleaded guilty to failing to intervene to stop the unlawful use of force against Christian Glass, who was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy, Andrew Buen, under Gould's command in 2022 after Glass called for help when his SUV got stuck.

Gould was not at the scene but was the shift supervisor 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, who worked as a sergeant for the Clear Creek Sheriff's Office, was indicted last year on charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in Glass' death, which drew national attention and prompted calls for police reforms focused on crisis intervention. Both Gould and Buen were fired after they were indicted last year.

Gould negotiated a plea agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser charge of failure to intervene, a crime created in police reform legislation passed during protests over the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It is punishable by up to 364 days in jail but the deal called for Gould to get a sentence of probation.

Judge Catherine Cheroutes had the final say on his punishment and, while she said jail time could be appropriate, she said she would impose two years of probation to resolve the case. Gould will also give up his certification to work as a police or security officer in Colorado, she said.

Gould entered his plea and was sentenced as the parents of Christian Glass, Sally and Simon Glass, watched in court in Idaho Springs.

A statement released by their lawyers expressed support for prosecutors and noted that Gould had taken responsibility for his role in their son's death.

“The Glass family hopes that the greater law enforcement community learns from this prosecution and makes changes to their policies and cultures to prevent this type of tragedy in the future,” it said.

Earlier this year, Glass' parents won a $19 million settlement that included policy changes including crisis intervention training for officers responding to people in distress.

Buen has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, official misconduct, and reckless endangerment.

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 which 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 into Glass.

The grand jury found that at no point was the other officer in “imminent danger of being stabbed by Mr. Glass.”