Johnny Hurley shot and killed a gunman who had ambushed an Arvada, Colorado, police officer. Minutes later, responding officers mistook Hurley for the initial shooter, killing him.
The mother of a man hailed as a hero for killing a gunman who ambushed a Colorado law enforcement officer–only to be shot and killed himself by anther, responding officer–has filed a lawsuit against the Arvada Police Department seeking compensatory damages for her son’s death.
According to The Colorado Sun, former Arvada Officer Kraig Brownlow, who mistook Johnny Hurley as the initial shooter, and Arvada Police Chief Link Strate are also named as defendants.
The Sun reports that Jefferson County District Attorney Alexander King announced the findings of a months-long investigation into the shooting, which occurred outside of Denver on June 21, 2021.
The D.A.’s office found that Officer Gordon Beesley responded to a reported threat in Alvada’s Olde Town Square—only to be ambushed, shot, and killed by Ronald Troyke, who had written a manifesto detailing his hatred of the local police department.
Hurley, who had been shopping at a military surplus store across the street, responded to the incident, using his own firearm to fire upon and kill Troyke.
Brownlow was one of several officers who responded to the initial shooting.
Brownlow mistakenly identified Hurley as the gunman, opened fire, and fatally shot him.
Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, said her 40-year-old son risked his own life to protect others.
When Beesley’s colleagues arrived, the lawsuit says, Hurley was crouched with his rifle pointing at the ground.
A witness, adds the complaint, said Hurley appeared to have seized the initial shooter’s firearm and was ejecting its magazine when Brownlow shot him.
“Johnny did what the police were supposed to do,” his mother said. “He should not have had to die for it.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the D.A.’s office cleared Brownlow of any wrongdoing, saying the officer believed Hurley was a second mass shooter and was trying to reload the firearm.
The City of Arvada also issued its own response to the lawsuit, claiming that the shooting was justified and that the complaint misrepresents the events leading up to Hurley’s killing.
“The events of June 21, 2021 were caused by Ronald Troyke, an individual that harbored an unfounded hatred toward police officers. When civil litigation is announced by a plaintiff’s attorney in a manner that mischaracterizes and omits select information, it has the potential to compromise officer safety,” the city said.
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit suggests that Brownlow and three other police officers heard shots and spotted Troyke from inside a local substation.
The lawsuit purports that Brownlow and his colleagues “cowered” in the building, “choosing self-preservation over defense of the civilian population” before the officers saw Hurley securing Troyke’s firearm, at which point they opened the substation doors and shut Hurley from behind.
“[Brownlow] made this choice despite the fact that no reasonable officer could have perceived a threat from Mr. Hurley’s actions,” the lawsuit says. “Mr. Hurley’s death was not the result of a misfortunate split-second judgment call gone wrong, but the result of a deliberate and unlawful use of deadly force.”