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City of Arvada settles lawsuit with family of Johnny Hurley for $2.775 million

The City of Arvada has settled for $2.775 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Johnny Hurley, who was killed by police in the 2021 Olde Town shooting.

Hurley’s family sued over his death, which occurred on June 21, 2021 after Hurley had killed a gunman who had just killed Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley.

Hurley was killed by another officer who mistook him for the perpetrator.

Ronald Troyke fatally shot Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley in a planned attack in Olde Town Square, at which point Hurley — who was shopping at the Army & Navy Surplus Store across the street — rushed out and fatally shot Troyke.

Arvada Police Officer Kraig Brownlow was one of the three APD officers who immediately responded to the shooting, and, mistaking Hurley for Troyke, Brownlow fatally shot Hurley.

Police tape surrounds the scene in Olde Town Arvada on the afternoon of June 21, following reports of the shooting. Credit: Rylee Dunn Credit: Rylee Dunn

“Law enforcement should use deadly force only when they are certain there is an imminent threat,” Hurley’s family said in a Sept. 28 press release. “The decision to shoot Johnny was incorrect.”

At a Sept. 28 press conference, Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, called the settlement a “satisfactory conclusion” and thanked her legal team for their efforts, saying she was “relieved to not have to go through the stress of trial.”

In November 2021, the First Judicial District Attorney’s office declined to press charges against Brownlow. On June 21, 2022 — the first anniversary of the shooting — Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boylen, filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Arvada, the Arvada Police Department, as well as Brownlow and APD Chief Link Strate individually.

In 2020, Colorado passed a law eliminating qualified immunity for police officers — meaning officers can be individually prosecuted for actions committed while on duty.

Brownlow resigned from the Arvada Police in good standing shortly after the shooting, APD Public Information Officer Dave Snelling said. Brownlow has not reached out to the Hurley family, according to Boleyn.

Boleyn said she’s working to forgive Brownlow because “the only true closure is through forgiveness.

“I hope he needs forgiveness to continue to live a better life,” she continued. “Forgiving does not absolve someone of accountability or having to face consequences, but I think it’s necessary to move forward.”

The law firm representing the Hurley estate, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, represented the mother of Elijah McClain in her lawsuit against the City of Aurora concerning McClain’s death, which occurred after he went into cardiac arrest in Aurora Police custody. The McClain family was awarded $15 million in the settlement, the highest sum awarded in a police settlement in Colorado history at the time.

The law firm is also representing the family of Destinee Delara-Thompson in their lawsuit against APD over Delara-Thompson’s death in a 2021 officer-involved shooting.

When asked how the monetary settlement stacked up to previous settlements earned by Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai said the settlement amount reflected a calculation based on jurisdiction and other factors.

“Every case is different and we’ve certainly had cases that were less… Every jurisdiction is different and the amount is oftentimes people doing a calculated risk of what a jury would,” Qusair Mohamedbhai said. “I wouldn’t say that this number is somehow less and therefore Johnny’s death means less or Johnny’s life means less. Quite the opposite, this is almost $3 million, and I think that if you check really high profile cases nationally, I think you’ll find that this case is very much among the upper end.”

The City of Arvada released a statement on the settlement and also agreed to look into the possibility of constructing a memorial to honor the victims of the shooting.

“Recognizing that this was a horrific set of circumstances for all involved, the parties have agreed to settle this matter,” the city’s statement read. “In reaching a settlement, the parties acknowledge the tragic loss of Officer Beesley and Mr. Hurley and acknowledge Mr. Hurley’s heroic actions under trying and unusual circumstances.

“These men were loved by their families and friends; they were valued members of their communities,” the statement continued. “In light of this, the parties have agreed to explore the possibility of a memorial to commemorate the events of that day.”

The settlement does not call for any procedural changes to APD policy or admission to liability from APD or Arvada, according to Omeed Azmoudeh, the lawyer representing the Hurley family said during the Sept. 28 press conference.

Boleyn has been vocal about calling for changes to Colorado law to mandate that officers warn people before firing their weapons while on duty.

“We think a warning was appropriate in this case but this case is not the case to mandate warnings in every case going forward,” a lawyer representing the Hurley family said.

Documents released by APD in 2021 showed that Troyke planned the shooting as an act of retaliation against law enforcement officers, for, among other things, McClain’s death.

“Without my son, my life is diminished,” Boleyn said. “Without Johnny’s heroic spirit, the world is diminished.”

Troyke’s letters read, in part:

“I dedicate the killing of A.P.D. to AurorA (sic) P.D. since there (sic) [illegible] in the limelight. I’ve been fooled most of my life as to really what kind of people you really are and I’ve came to a conclusion you government people you sociopaths that wear that bade (sic) and those we never see that work behind the scenes. You are exactly the same people you arrest…”

He added in another part: “Today I will Die I will be a Hero in the eyes of millions for killings pigs I did what I did because I cant believe what you pigs get away with.”

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