A Colorado police officer who fatally shot a bystander hailed as a hero for stopping a gunman armed with a rifle will not be charged, prosecutors said Monday.
The officer, who has not been identified, had “objectively reasonable grounds” to believe he and others faced imminent danger when he opened fire, killing bystander John Hurley, 40, on June 21 in Arvada, north of Denver, First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King told reporters.
“Officers that day saw a mass shooter, heard many rounds of gunfire in broad daylight in the heart of Old Town Arvada,” King said. “Thus, the officer’s decision to shoot John Hurley was legally justified despite his heroic actions that day.”
Hurley fatally shot the gunman with his own handgun after Ronald Troyke, 59, ambushed and killed Arvada police officer Gordon Beesley with a shotgun, officials have said.
Troyke had also retrieved an AR-15 rifle from a truck. Hurley had apparently picked up the rifle and was holding it when he was shot, authorities said.
“Had he survived, we would have praised his bravery in engaging a mass shooter before anyone else was killed,” King said. “He acted to defend others. We will remember him for his selflessness.”
King said the use-of-force investigation was led by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The Arvada Police Department wasn’t involved in “critical” parts of the inquiry, she said.
Hurley’s mother, Kathleen Boleyn, said she prayed no one else would have to face the kind of situation her son did.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“I imagine that many people are angry, and that is understandable,” she added. “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.”
After the shooting, investigators found a note at Troyke’s house saying that he intended to kill “as many Arvada officers as I possibly can.”
Earlier that day, Troyke’s brother had asked police to check on him, saying he planned to “do something crazy.”