DENVER (AP) — No criminal charges will be filed against a police officer who accidentally shot and killed a man hailed as a hero for stopping a gunman who ambushed another police officer in suburban Denver, a prosecutor announced Monday.
In June, Johnny Hurley was shopping in a store in Arvada, when Ronald Troyke shot and killed police Officer Gordon Beesley, police said. Hurley, 40, rushed out and shot Troyke, dressed all in black, with his handgun and picked up Troyke’s AR-style rifle, according to authorities.
An investigation by a team of outside agencies found that Hurley was shot by one of three officers in a police substation office nearby who heard multiple rounds of gunfire and initially saw a man with an AR-style rifle dressed all in black, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King said at a press conference announcing her decision. None of them knew Beesley, a 19-year department veteran, and beloved school resource officer, had been shot or that Hurley had intervened. The officer who shot Hurley, who was wearing a red shirt and holding Troyke’s rifle, believed he was a second mass shooter and that he only had a moment to stop him from hurting others, King said.
The three officers separated to different parts of the building to try to stop the gunman dressed in black, according to King’s letter to police detailing the findings of the investigation. One saw people rushing away from the main square in Olde Town Arvada, a historic shopping and entertainment area about 7 miles (10 kilometers) northwest of downtown Denver around midday on June 21 while the second set out to try to shoot at the gunman from a window but could not see him from there. But, standing at a door to the building, Officer Kraig Brownlow saw a man wearing a red shirt — later identified as Hurley — come into view holding an AR-style rifle and a handgun near the spot where the man in black had been spotted earlier, looking toward the square, King said. Hurley appeared to Brownlow to be reloading the rifle or trying to fix something while holstering his pistol, the letter said.
Like police have King praised Hurley’s decision to intervene and stop Troyke — who police said left a note saying he planned to kill as many police officers as possible — preventing others from being killed.
“He acted to defend others and we will remember him for his selflessness,” she said.
Hurley’s mother said she imagined many people would be angry, which she said was 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. Engage in meaningful conversations that might make a difference in how we all may move forward together,” Kathleen Boleyn said in a statement released by her lawyers.
An Arvada police spokesperson declined to comment on the decision. In a statement, the city said it appreciated the work that went into the investigation and expressed support for its police department in general as well as Brownlow and his family.
“This incident illustrates the nearly unfathomable decisions society asks our police officers to make as they go about their everyday work,” it said.