Arvada Police Department settles lawsuit from family of ‘good Samaritan’ who stopped active shooter

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A memorial to Johnny Hurley in the driveway of Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boelyn, in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Hurley was killed in a shooting last year in Arvada.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023

The family of Johnny Hurley, who was killed by police in 2021 after he stopped a shooting in Olde Town Arvada, has settled a lawsuit against the Arvada Police Department for $2,775,000. Hurley has been described by authorities as a heroic good Samaritan who prevented what could have become a mass shooting.  

“Without my son, my life is diminished. Without Johnny’s heroic spirit, the world is diminished,” said Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, in a statement about the settlement.

The June 21, 2021 attack Hurley intervened in was perpetrated by gunman Ronald Troyke, who investigators say was searching for a police officer to shoot when he came across Arvada Police Officer Gordon Beesley in an Olde Town parking lot.

“My goal today is to kill Arvada PD officers,” Troyke allegedly wrote in a note found after his death. “We the people were never your enemy, but we are now.”

Troyke fatally shot Beesley with a shotgun after chasing and ambushing him from behind. While Troyke fired shots into the air and into patrol car windows, Hurley silently approached and shot him with a handgun five times. Troyke died on the scene.

When Hurley moved to disarm Troyke, nearby police officer Kraig Brownlow, who heard the shots and was taking cover in a nearby substation with other officers, took aim from the building and fired at Hurley, hitting him in the back pelvis and killing him. 

Paolo Zialcita/CPR News
The family of John Hurley, the "Good Samaritan" killed by a police officer in Olde Town Arvada in 2021, embraces their legal team after announcing they settled their lawsuit against Arvada officers involved in the shooting.

Brownlow was named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by Hurley’s family. The lawsuit alleged Brownlow unreasonably used deadly force on Hurley. It also alleged that then-Arvada Police Chief Link Strate enabled deficient deadly force policies and training. Brownlow, who resigned from the department and no longer lives in Colorado, was not charged with a crime.

In a press release announcing the settlement, Hurley’s family’s lawyers said the two parties decided to settle after “recognizing this was a horrific set of circumstances for all involved.”

“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,” the statement said. “These men were loved by their families and friends; they were valued members of their communities.”

Boleyn, Hurley’s mother, said she was relieved to settle for multiple reasons. 

“I'm relieved to not have to go through the anxiety and stress of trial, and to save my friends — and all the witnesses and Johnny's acquaintances — to save them from that as well,” Boleyn said.

The family and police department are now exploring the possibility of a memorial to commemorate both Beesley and Hurley. Boleyn said they haven't started working on the project, but she has some ideas. 

“I'm sure something will involve a plaque,” she said. “I don't know about a statue. We will definitely have input and I imagine it will be in the area where this happened.”

The settlement comes days before the case was scheduled to go to trial.