Former US police officer pleads guilty for role in killing of Kiwi Christian Glass, family applauds decision

A former Colorado police officer involved in the death of New Zealander Christian Glass has pleaded guilty to his involvement.  

Glass, 22, was born in Christchurch but moved with his family to the US when he was 10.  

In June last year, he called for roadside assistance when his car got stuck in the Colorado town of Silver Plume in Clear Creek County, about an hour and 15 minutes from his home in Louisville, just north of Denver.  

Glass told the emergency dispatcher he had two knives, a hammer and a rubber mallet. His family's lawyer said that's because he was an amateur geologist.   

When officers arrived at the scene, they tasered him before shooting him dead when he did not get out of the car.  

On Thursday afternoon (local time), former Sgt Kyle Gould pleaded guilty to charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the killing of Glass in Clear Creek County Court, according to CBS News Colorado.   

He was given a US$1000 (NZ$1700) fine and two years of probation.  

Gould was not at the scene when Glass was killed but was watching via a live-streamed body camera. He gave the order for Glass' driver's side window to be broken out, according to court documents, as reported by Stuff

Following the guilty plea, the Glass family released a statement through their lawyers, saying they commended the District Attorney of the Fifth Judicial District for successfully prosecuting Gould.   

"Mr Gould has accepted responsibility for his part in the murder of Christian Glass by pleading guilty to the crime of Failure to Intervene," the family said.   

"Most importantly, this result ensures that Mr Gould is stripped of his Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification and will no longer have the privilege of serving as a law enforcement officer."  

The family hopes the ruling will help law enforcement learn from what happened to their son "to prevent this type of tragedy in the future", the statement said. 

In November last year, former officers Andrew Buen and Gould were charged. In April, a judge denied their bids to have the case dismissed, ruling there was enough evidence to support the charges.  

Buen has not accepted any responsibility for shooting and killing Glass.   

"He has unconscionably pleaded not guilty to Christian's murder despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt," the family said.   

"The Glass family's suffering unfortunately continues as they tirelessly pursue justice for Christian's murder through Mr Buen's criminal prosecution."   

Christian Glass
Christian Glass Photo credit: Supplied

Earlier this year, Glass's lawyers said they had reached a US$19 million (NZ$30m) settlement in the case. A US media outlet said it was the largest known police settlement in Colorado history.  

Glass' parents Sally and Simon told AM in April they were warned bringing a case against the police was incredibly difficult.  

"We were told right from the outset by our lawyers it is incredibly, incredibly difficult to prosecute police. They get carte blanche.  

"They've had implied immunity. They have literally in the past gotten away with murder. They get different treatment than the public. 

"So, to get police to stand criminal trial is very difficult and challenging," Sally said.   

She also lashed out at the police force, saying after Christian died, she initially wanted to trust them. 

"You do want to believe the police but the police in America particularly, you can't honestly believe them. I mean, they've done bad stuff. 

"So, you don't give them carte blanche. They're not all a bunch of honest, nice, decent people - they're just not.  

"Some are and some are not," she said.

This article was amended because it incorrectly stated Gould was given a US$100,000 fine. Gould was in fact given a US$1000 fine and the story has been amended accordingly.