Headlines – May 23, 2023 Stacie Johnson
Christian Glass Family To Receive $19M Law Enforcement Settlement
Three law enforcement agencies, along with the State of Colorado, have agreed to pay the family of a police shooting victim a $19 million settlement. Law enforcement fatally shot 22-year-old Christian Glass after Glass crashed his car into a berm near Silver Plume last summer and then dialed the emergency number for help.
The largest portion of the settlement, $10 million, will come from Clear Creek County, whose former deputy shot and killed Glass. Other law enforcement agencies that had officers at the scene include Georgetown, Idaho Springs, the Colorado State Patrol, and the Division of Gaming.
According to Colorado Public Radio, the settlement is the largest known single payout for police violence in the state’s history. In 2021, the family of Elijah McClain received $15 million.
As part of the settlement, the agencies agreed to implement several police reform and mental health training initiatives. Among other commitments, Clear Creek County will also dedicate a public park in honor of Glass and the state will feature Glass’ artwork in government buildings.
Lower Colorado River Basin States Announce Drought Deal
Three out of seven western states that rely on the Colorado River for water are signing a landmark drought deal. The states of California, Arizona and Nevada said Monday that they are willing to cut back on their use of the dwindling Colorado River water through 2026, when current guidelines for how the river is shared expire.
The Colorado Sun reports that these three states that make up the Lower Basin of the river will do so in exchange for money from the federal government, and to avoid forced cuts as the drought threatens key water supply for the West.
The 1,450-mile river provides water to 40 million people in seven U.S. states, parts of Mexico and more than two dozen Native American tribes. It produces hydropower and supplies water to farms that grow most of the nation’s winter vegetables.
In exchange for temporarily using less water, cities, irrigation districts and Native American tribes in the three states will be paid.
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, the four states that make up the Upper Basin of the river system said they supported the submission of the agreement; however, they have not yet endorsed the plan.
Opposition Grows In Aurora Against Proposed Ballot Initiative That Would Create A ‘Strong Mayor’ Government
Several Aurora City council members, state representatives from Aurora, and officials from the City’s police and fire unions, held a news conference Monday to announce their unified opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would give the city’s mayor significant authority and power as the city’s top executive. Supporters are currently collecting signatures for the proposal to become a ballot initiative for the fall election.
The proposed restructuring of the city’s governance seeks to give veto power to the mayor, reduce term limits for council members and the mayor, while also adding an at-large member seat to the city council. The proposal would also eliminate the city manager position and give the mayor authority to appoint and fire staff.
The Aurora Sentinel reports the proposal has drawn bipartisan criticism. Opponents say it would give too much power to one person. Supporters of “strong-mayor” governments argue it would cut down on bureaucracy, and create a more focused local government.
According to the Aurora Sentinel, it is unclear who authored the controversial measure, but multiple sources told the paper, Mayor Michael Coffman was involved in creating the proposal. Coffman did immediately respond to the Sentinel’s request for comment.
Boulder To Receive State Funding For Housing and Behavioral Health Projects
The city of Boulder announced that over $2.5 million has been awarded to Boulder’s Housing and Human Services Department. These funds will serve unhoused community members and those facing behavioral health challenges.
$2 million of those dollars, from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, will assist future projects to support a respite center for the unhoused where they can recover after being discharged from medical services. These clients will have access to mental health care and housing support as well.
Additional funding includes over $500,000 dollars from the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration for staff and operating costs, renovations on spaces, and alternative response programs that include the Crisis Intervention Response Team and the City’s new Community Assistance Response and Engagement team. Other community partners, including Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Mental Health Partners, also received funding.
The director of Housing and Human Services, Kurt Firnhaber, said that “these funds will uplift key programs to positively impact our community.”
Prosecutors Say King Soopers Defendant Is Undergoing Mental Health Treatment Changes
Court records reveal the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo has been administering new medical therapies to the Defendant in the King Soopers shooter case since March. They include involuntary treatment and neuropsychological exams. Hospital doctors say the Defendant is showing more engagement with his treatment.
The defendant is facing murder and other criminal charges related to the March 2021 mass shooting death of ten people that occurred at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder. Since the Court declared him incompetent to go on trial in December 2021, the Defendant has been undergoing treatment at the state mental hospital in Pueblo. The Daily Camera reports prosecutors had previously asked the state hospital to conduct neuropsych exams on the defendant, but doctors had said they were unnecessary.
The recent disclosure of the treatment changes prompted prosecutors to submit an unopposed request to delay the defendant’s three-day competency hearing that was to begin on Monday. Prosecutors say they received the defendant’s 200-plus pages of prior treatment records on May 1st. However, their expert witnesses were unable to finish their reports before a May 15th deadline because of the additional measures employed by the state hospital.
The judge is now asking the prosecution and defense to decide on a new hearing date for late August.
Headlines – May 23, 2023 Stacie Johnson