The mother of a licensed concealed carrier who was killed by police after stopping an active shooter is suing the police department responsible for her son’s death.
Kathleen Boelyn, the mother of Johnny Hurley filed suit against former Arvada, Colorado police officer Kraig Brownlow and Chief of Police Link Strate on Wednesday. The suit alleges a violation of Mr. Hurley’s constitutional rights because former Officer Brownlow failed to identify himself before fatally shooting Hurley from behind.
“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,” the suit reads.
The lawsuit comes just one day after the one-year anniversary of the Olde Town Arvada shooting that resulted in the deaths of Mr. Hurley and veteran Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley. It also arrives with scrutiny of police response to active shooters escalating as damning revelations surrounding police inaction in Uvalde continue to come to light.
The complaint alleges that multiple Arvada police officers who were already on scene failed to initially confront the active shooter and instead stayed hidden while Hurley engaged him with his own firearm.
“Instead of worrying about self-preservation, Mr. Hurley sprang into action—he drew a concealed carry pistol, ran toward the active shooter, and stopped the threat,” the complaint reads. “Unlike Mr. Hurley, the three APD officers did not spring into action. Rather, they cowered inside, choosing self-preservation over defense of the civilian population.”
On June 21, 2021, a man arrived at Arvada’s Olde Town Square shopping center armed with a shotgun and AR-15 style rifle with the intention of killing as many police officers as he could. The gunman fatally ambushed Arvada Officer Gordon Beesley before Johnny Hurley, who was shopping in a nearby store when the shooting took place, rushed out with his concealed handgun and fired six shots at the attacker, fatally wounding him.
Hurley then holstered his own weapon and picked up the gunman’s rifle in an attempt to remove the magazine, investigators say. That’s when Officer Kraig Brownlow, who remained inside a nearby police substation with two other officers while the shooting transpired, saw Hurley with the rifle and fatally shot him.
The suit alleges that Officer Brownlow observed Hurley for eleven seconds before engaging and thus he should have had reasonable time to discover that Hurley was not a threat that warranted deadly force.
“Officer Brownlow had the time and opportunity to carefully assess Mr. Hurley’s actions because Mr. Hurley was stationary, hunched over, had the rifle pointed down, was not making any verbal threats, and there were no third persons in the vicinity,” the complaint reads. “Officer Brownlow considered whether to issue any warning. But instead, finally feeling safe enough to leave his place of hiding, Officer Brownlow opened the door and fatally shot Mr. Hurley from behind without providing any warning.”
A district attorney cleared Brownlow of any criminal wrongdoing last November. He resigned from the Arvada Police Department following the investigation. The Arvada Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the shooting, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams released a statement on behalf of the city.
“June 21, 2021 will forever be etched into the memory of the City of Arvada,” the statement reads. “On that day, our peaceful community was shocked by the actions of an evil, murderous shooter who caused the loss of two men. The Arvada Police lost a valued and beloved officer, Officer Gordon Beesley. And we also lost a heroic good samaritan, Johnny Hurley, who most likely saved lives that day with his selfless actions.”