DENVER – The Arvada police officer who shot and killed Johnny Hurley, a Good Samaritan who shot and killed a gunman in Olde Town Arvada in June, will not face criminal charges, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King announced Monday.
The officer, identified in the decision letter as Kraig Brownlow, was found to have reasonably believed that Hurley, 40, was the gunman believed to have already shot and killed an Arvada police officer on June 21, King said.
“The officer here had objectively reasonable grounds to believe, and did believe, he and other people were in imminent danger of being killed that day,” King said in a news conference Monday afternoon. “The officer saw a mass shooter, heard many rounds of gunfire in broad daylight in the heart of Olde Town Arvada. … Thus, the decision to shoot John Hurley was legally justified despite his heroic actions that day.”
The district attorney’s office Critical Incident Response Team handed over its investigation into the Ole Town Arvada shooting in early September. King said the CIRT and her office reviewed more than 3,200 photos and 1,180 pages of reports from various cameras and law enforcement agencies who responded to the scene that day.
Hurley shot Ronald Troyke, who was suspected of shooting and killing Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley, and was in turn shot and killed by an Arvada police officer, the department confirmed in June.
King said during Monday’s news conference that throughout the review, she and her team found Hurley “acted as a hero.”
“Had he survived, we would have praised his bravery in engaging a mass shooter before anyone else was killed. He acted to defend others and we will remember him for his selflessness,” King said.
She said the three officers who were working at the outpost near Olde Town were finishing up lunch when Troyke shot Beesley and that only about three minutes elapsed between when they heard the first shots and when the lone officer, Brownlow, shot Hurley.
The CIRT report found the three officers went to different sides of the building to try to find the initial gunman, found him dressed in black carrying an AR-style rifle, and watched him turn back toward the Olde Town Square.
But they could not get a clear shot, and one officer was only wearing soft body armor that was not capable of stopping a round from an AR-15, King wrote in her decision letter.
Brownlow spotted a man in a red shirt, later identified as Hurley, out of the east door of the building after hearing another round of gunfire, King's letter said. He shot Hurley, whom King said was carrying an AR-style rifle and a handgun at the time he was shot and was “manipulating” them. The letter said Brownlow believed Hurley was reloading the rifle or trying to fix something on it while holstering his pistol.
The letter from King to Strate says Brownlow fired three rounds at Hurley, who was hit and fell to the ground.
By the time the other officers arrived, Hurley was on the ground with the rifle next to him.
King said the officers “almost” had the opportunity to engage the man later identified as Troyke “but never had a clear shot.”
“Based on facts – not only information from witnesses, but also surveillance video and other evidence – this officer believed and had reasonable grounds to believe that John Hurley was a second mass shooter. They really only had a moment to safely engage him before potentially putting others at risk,” King said.
"Based upon information known to Brownlow, the presence of a mass shooter, and the potential for a second mass shooter in a red shirt carrying a rifle and a handgun turned toward a hub of community activity, warranted deadly force and no lesser degree of force would eliminate the potential threat," King wrote in her letter to Strate.
"By law, in deciding whether Officer Brownlow was justified in acting in self-defense or defense of others, it does not matter whether John Hurley was actually trying to injure the officer or another person, so long as a reasonable person, under like conditions and circumstances, would believe that it appeared that deadly physical force was necessary to prevent imminent harm," she added in her letter.
In a statement, Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, asked people not to be angry about the district attorney’s decision.
“I imagine that many people are angry and that is understandable. I would ask that instead of acting out on your anger, that you use that energy to be the change you wish to see in the world,” Boleyn said. “Engage in meaningful conversation that might make a difference in how we all may move forward together.”
She also thanked those who have supported their family during the past months, saying their love “has allowed our family to persevere as we struggle to come to terms with Johnny’s final act of heroism.”
“I pray none of us will have to face a situation such as Johnny did, but as we pull ourselves together to move forward in life, consider using Johnny’s commitment to doing the right thing even at the greatest cost to inspire your own actions,” Boleyn said in the statement.
King discussed the decision with Hurley’s family ahead of Monday’s announcement and said she shared her team’s “deepest sympathy” of the family.
“They lost a brave son and brother that day and we really appreciate everyone’s patience,” King said.
In a statement, the City of Arvada called the conclusion of the investigation “an important step in the process” and said it did not plan to further comment on the case.
“The events of June 21 in Olde Town were tragic. The Arvada community and City team have worked to support the subsequent investigations, and continue to support those affected by the events, including the families of Officer Gordon Beesley, Johnny Hurley, the involved officer, and all of the community,” the city said in the statement. “The City appreciates the Critical Incident Response Team and District Attorney’s Office for their efforts to thoroughly investigate this officer-involved shooting and bring the matter to conclusion.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated.