Colorado family sues police over Olde Town Arvada fatal shooting

Denver, CO – One year after the death of Good Samaritan Johnny Hurley, his mother is suing the Arvada Police Department for killing the young man whose only fault was that he tried to do the job local officers were unable to do – protect innocent civilians in an active shooter situation.

On June 21, 2021, Johnny Hurley was shopping at an army surplus store in the Olde Town district of Arvada. At one point he heard several shots coming from the plaza and spotted a man in a black T-shirt brandishing an AR-15. As he’d had special training for exactly this type of situation, the 40-year-old man ran outside and fired six rounds at the shooter. As he approached the still-living suspect to disarm him, Hurley was shot in the back by police officer Brownlow.

The local police have been trying to present the tragedy as an honest mistake, claiming that Brownlow thought there was a second shooter in the incident and killed him, in self-defense and to protect the lives of bystanders.

According to the lawsuit filed by his mother, nothing could be further from the truth. At the time of the incident, there were three officers working in an Olde Town substation. When the shooter started firing his AR-15, killing another police agent in the process, the three officers did nothing. They didn’t rush outside like Hurley did, as it seemed too dangerous. They even feared the shooter, who was known for having a grudge against the police, might kill them through the window of their substation.

When Officer Brownlow finally went outside, he didn’t understand what Hurley was trying to do and shot him in the back without warning. 

As required by law, the Arvada PD reviewed the incident and found Officer Brownlow not guilty. “Our review of all the facts in this tragic incident reveals no policy or procedural violations were made by any Arvada Police Department member in this unprecedented set of circumstances”, an Arvada PD spokesman said. 

Late last year, Jefferson County District Attorney Alexis King decided not to press charges against Brownlow.

Initially, Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boelyn, did not want to sue the local police, as they spoke so nicely about her son and called him a hero. Eventually, she came to realize that her son would still be alive if the officers involved had followed regulations. All Officer Brownlow had to do was shout: “Police! Drop your weapon!” The tragedy would have been avoided.

When you compare the action of the Arvada police to the heroism of Johnny, it is a stark contrast. And then when you magnify it with their conscious decision to not announce themselves and to shoot Johnny in the back when he was unloading the weapon when he did not match the description of the shooter that they had seen when he did not pose a threat to anyone, it is just unbelievable. Their conduct is unbelievable,” the mother’s lawyer said in an interview. 

When can police use lethal force?

According to the law, law enforcement agents can use deadly force in situations such as 

  • Self-Defense – When an officer believes he or she may be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
  • To prevent serious offenses against persons – When the use of deadly force appears a reasonable option to prevent the commission of a serious offense against a person(s) in circumstances presenting an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm
  • To apprehend a suspect reasonably believed to have committed a serious offense, such as murder. Even if such a situation presents itself, police officers are required to issue a verbal warning or fire warning shots.

If you were recently a victim of any type of police misconduct in Denver, you should contact an experienced civil rights lawyer at the Bryan&Terrill law firm to see how to proceed with your case.

Contact info:

Bryan & Terrill

333 W. Hampden Ave., #420B

Englewood, CO 80110

(720) 923-2333


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