The family of the East High student who was fatally shot outside the school earlier this year is accusing Denver Public Schools, district leaders and the city of negligence in failing to protect students — including by removing armed police from the school.
A lawyer representing Luis Garcia’s family made the allegations in a legal notice ahead of a wrongful death lawsuit released by DPS on Friday, three months after the shooting, which has still not been resolved by police from Denver.
In the four-page document, the family’s attorney charged DPS with negligence on the basis of lack of security, inadequate student parking and the “deliberate and wanton removal” of Denver Police Department school officers from East.
Garcia, 16, was shot while sitting in his car outside Denver’s largest high school on Feb. 13 and died more than two weeks later on March 1.
The lawyer representing Garcia’s family could not be reached for comment Friday.
A DPS spokesperson declined to discuss the matter, saying the district “does not comment on potential litigation.”
Garcia was shot in the head as he attempted to drop out of high school on February 13.
The shooting was one of two to occur within six weeks of each other in East. The second occurred in late March when a student shot two administrators.
Since both shootings, DPS has come under scrutiny for its security and discipline policies. In March, the school board voted to temporarily reinstate armed police in high schools and instructed Superintendent Alex Marrero to create a security plan that is expected to be released next month.
In 2020, the board voted to remove the Denver Police Department’s auxiliary officers following the protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Garcia was a junior with East and played on the varsity football team. His family described him as an “extremely hard worker”, earning good grades and working several odd jobs.
Denver police said they had two DPS students in custody after the shooting. The students, who were not identified because they are minors, did not go East.
Neither was arrested on charges specifically related to the shooting. A 16-year-old has since been charged with one count of motor vehicle theft, one count of evading vehicles and one count of possession of burglary tools. According to Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, a 17-year-old was charged with one count of gun possession by a minor.
Denver police said Friday that the two teens have not been arrested or charged in Garcia’s death. The investigation remains “active and there is no arrest to report at this time,” the department said.
Get more Colorado news by signing up for our Mile High Roundup email newsletter.