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Family of “Good Samaritan” Johnny Hurley settles $2.7 million lawsuit against Arvada police

The family of Johnny Hurley, the 40-year-old man mistakenly shot and killed by an Arvada police officer after he stopped an active shooter in Olde Town Arvada in June 2021, will settle a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department for $2.775 million.

Johnny Hurley (Photo courtesy of Cody Soules via Denver7)
Johnny Hurley (Photo courtesy of Cody Soules via Denver7)

Hurley’s family and the Arvada Police Department announced the settlement in a joint statement released Thursday morning, and the family hosted a news conference on Thursday afternoon at the law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai in downtown Denver.

The lawsuit was set to go to trial on Oct. 6 and was in active litigation until a few days ago, attorney Matthew Cron said.

Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, said she was relieved to not have to go through the anxiety and stress of the trial and to save her friends, the witnesses and her son’s acquaintances from that stress.

“You can’t erase what Johnny did just because his life was erased,” Boleyn said. “Without my son, my life is diminished. But without Johnny’s heroic spirit, I think the world is diminished.”

Hurley was in the Army Navy Surplus store in Olde Town on June 21, 2021, when he heard gunshots outside and rushed to help. Using a concealed weapon, Hurley shot and killed Ronald Troyke, who wanted to kill police officers and ambushed Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley, killing him, before he began shooting into parked police vehicles.

Hurley was standing over Troyke and disarming Troyke’s weapon when he was mistaken as the shooter and shot by former Arvada police Officer Kraig Brownlow, who was named in the civil rights suit along with former Arvada police Chief Link Strate. Brownlow did not face criminal charges in Hurley’s death after an investigation by First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King.

The settlement recognizes “that this is a horrific set of circumstances for all involved,” according to the joint statement from the Arvada Police Department and Hurley’s family.

“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 reads.

Hurley’s family and the Arvada Police Department are discussing a possible memorial to commemorate the events of that day, according to the joint statement.

The settlement did not address one of Boleyn’s central concerns outlined in the lawsuit, which is that Brownlow did not announce himself as a police officer before shooting Hurley.

Attorney Omeed Azmoudeh said he and Boleyn had many difficult conversations about the issue.

“I think we agree that the state of the law can’t be that no warnings are ever necessary and that warnings serve a purpose in the right case,” Azmoudeh said. “We think a warning was appropriate in this case, but this case is not the case to mandate warnings in every case going forward. It’s just not feasible and it’s not practical. It’s not the way we want to shape the law.”

The message to get across from this case is that officers need to be certain about who they’re shooting and that the person they’re shooting poses an imminent threat, Azmoudeh said.

Hurley, a Denver resident, was an affable guy who made and kept friends easily, Boleyn said Thursday. He felt equally at home cooking friends a meal in a fully-stocked kitchen as he did over an open fire, and he enjoyed skateboarding, snowboarding, snowshoeing and singing.

Boleyn said while she has not been contacted by Brownlow, the only true closure is through forgiveness.

“I know that my heart has a great capacity for forgiveness and I know that no one wants his or her life to be judged on the worst thing they ever did,” Boleyn said. “Our world is so full of hate and blame and retribution and self-aggrandizement and selfishness, and I think we need to make more space for forgiveness. If we hold on to regret or anger or fear or retribution through not forgiving, we are holding ourselves back from moving forward in life, and that is true of the forgiver and the forgiven.”

Boleyn said after the shooting, she was brought to tears by imagining how she would feel if she was the officer when she discovered she had killed the “Good Samaritan.”

“I do not know how he felt,” Boleyn said. “For a long time, I knew my spirit forgave him but as Johnny’s mother, I struggled with how to do that. But time has passed, I am stronger and I think it’s important. I hope he needs forgiveness to continue to live a better life. Forgiving does not absolve someone of accountability or needing to face consequences, but I think it’s necessary for everyone to move forward into a better life.”

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