ARVADA, Colo. — The mother of Johnny Hurley, a “Good Samaritan” who shot and killed a gunman only to be shot and killed himself by another officer in Olde Town Arvada last year, is taking the police to court.
A lawsuit was filed by Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, Wednesday in Jefferson County District Court, claiming the officer shot Hurley from behind and should have realized he didn't pose a threat in the June 21, 2021, incident.
The officer, identified as Kraig Brownlow, was found in November by First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King to have reasonably believed that Hurley, 40, was the gunman believed to have already shot and killed Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley.
But Boleyn disagrees with the Nov. 8, 2021, findings of the district attorney’s office Critical Incident Response Team and is suing former officer Brownlow and Arvada Police Chief Link Strate a day after the first anniversary of the shootings in downtown Arvada.
Boleyn claims her son’s quick actions stopped further bloodshed and the police agree. Chief Strate said in a news conference last year that Hurley was “a true hero" who likely saved lives when the shooter opened fire.
But where Boleyn and the police come to a pass is the exact moments that led to Hurley’s death. While authorities have determined that Brownlow’s actions were justified and no charges were filed, Hurley’s mother contends Hurley did not pose a threat and three officers that were at the scene failed to take action and instead “cowered inside, choosing self-preservation over the defense of the civilian population,” her attorneys wrote in the complaint.
Hurley was at an Army-Navy surplus store when the gunman opened fire. After hearing the shooting, the 40-year-old exited the store with his own handgun and shot and killed the suspect.
After Hurley shot the gunman, Hurley picked up the suspect’s AR-15 and “began removing the magazine to make the weapon safe,” the lawsuit said. While hutched over in a “non-ready position” near the suspect’s body and holding the rifle “pointing down,” he was confused as the suspect and shot. The lawsuit says it was clear to a witness that Hurley was unloading the gun and Brownlow did not announce himself before shooting.
The complaint says that when the gunman began opening fire, three Arvada officers, including Brownlow, coward inside a nearby building instead of confronting the shooter. The suit says the officers, including Brownlow, saw the shooter, who was a heavy-set man wearing shorts with a baseball cap but still confused Hurley, who had a thin-athletic build wearing jeans and a wide-brim hat, as being the shooter.
Boleyn’s lawsuit also claims Chief Strate is responsible for the APD’s “deficient policies” and failed to provide adequate training to his officers.
In a response to the lawsuit, the City of Arvada reiterated that the CIRT investigation “thoroughly reviewed” the case and found that Brownlow’s actions were “both reasonable and justified under the circumstances.”
The city’s statement continued:
“Based on the District Attorney’s findings and after an internal review, the APD found that Officer Brownlow’s actions were consistent with APD policy and procedures. The APD is not considering changes to its actual training or response protocols at this time.
After the District Attorney announced her findings, Officer Brownlow resigned from the APD in good standing.
The events of June 21, 2021 were caused by [the gunman], 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.
We stand by every member of the APD. We are confident that any mischaracterizations will be resolved in court.”