CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Clear Creek County deputy who fired the shots that killed a man who called 911 for help was already being sued over alleged excessive force in another case.
The deputy who used deadly force against 22-year old Christian Glass has a lawsuit against him claiming he choked and kneeled on an inmate in 2019. Manuel Camacho, who filed that suit, says while he was waiting for a court appearance in the county jail back in May 2019, Deputy Andrew Buen, along with several others, used excessive force.
Camacho claims in the suit while he was waiting on that court appearance, Buen “placed me into a headlock cutting off my air supply. Deputy Buen then kneeled on me while I was still in restraints. I could not breathe.” He claims that violated his Eighth Amendment right.
He also claimed other deputies involved tried to attach a shackle to his ankle that was already swollen from a previous accident, despite his complaints that it was pinching his skin.
Legal analyst: ‘Concerning’ sheriff failed to act
Camacho originally filed a grievance against the deputies involved a day after the alleged incident, but he hit a dead end. When Camacho asked for an update, Capt. Jeff Smith wrote back in a letter, telling him he thought he wanted the matter handled “administratively” and they do not release conclusions for administrative matters.
FOX31 legal analyst Christopher Decker said releasing that information is required by Colorado law.
“It’s hard to understand that statement. Those proceedings are subject to open records requests and so I don’t understand that statement,” Decker said.
A month later came the lawsuit. He filed in December 2020, about a year and a half after the alleged incident took place in May 2019.
“Anytime you have an officer who is alleged to have engaged in unlawful or abusive conduct that is back out on the street is a situation where he can cause — and in this case arguably did cause — the death of another human, is very concerning,” Decker said. “It makes the circumstances that much more aggravating when a department is put on notice of the potential violent and unlawful tendencies of one of its employees and fails to act.”
Decker said it’s possible the sheriff’s office didn’t trust the merit of the claim, because he filed it without an attorney.
“It may mean that it got a different look by the agency than it would have if it had been brought by attorneys or experienced litigators that are usually associated with these types of civil rights claims,” Decker said.
Sheriff’s office claims no complaints against Buen
FOX31 requested records on Buen from the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office. They claim there have been no disciplinary records for Buen nor have any complaints been filed against him.
“The argument would be that if Clear Creek County had taken the allegations of this pro se plaintiff (without an attorney) seriously, if they had been cautious and pulled him off the street, perhaps Mr. Glass wouldn’t have died,” Decker said.
Camacho is seeking $407,000 in damages and also filed a liability claim against the sheriff’s office, alleging it’s failing to train its employees. But there could be another lawsuit coming from the attorney for Glass’ parents for the muting of the body camera video after their son was shot, which violates Colorado’s police accountability law.
According to records, Buen was back on patrol as of July 13.