Family of slain East High student Luis Garcia accuses DPS of negligence

The family of the East High student 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.

An attorney representing the family of Luis Garcia made the allegations in a legal notice preceding a wrongful-death lawsuit that was released by DPS on Friday, three months after the shooting, which remains unsolved by the Denver Police Department.

In the four-page document, the family’s attorney accused DPS of negligence based on a lack of security, not providing enough student parking and the “willful and wanton removal” of Denver Police Department school resource officers from East. 

Garcia, 16, was shot while sitting in his car outside of Denver’s largest high school on Feb. 13 and died more than two weeks later, on March 1.

The attorney representing Garcia’s family could not be reached for comment Friday.

A spokesman for DPS declined to discuss the matter, saying the district “does not comment on potential lawsuits.”

Garcia was shot in his head while trying to leave the high school on Feb. 13.

The shooting was one of two that occurred at East within six weeks of each other. The second took place 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 put armed police back in high schools and directed Superintendent Alex Marrero to draft a safety plan that is expected to be released next month.

In 2020, the board voted to remove the Denver Police Department’s resource officers following the protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Garcia was a junior at East and played on the varsity soccer team. His family described him as an “extremely hard worker,” who earned good grades and worked several jobs.

Denver police said after the shooting that they had two DPS students in custody. The students, who were not identified because they are juveniles, did not attend 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 vehicular eluding and one count of possession of a burglary tool.  A 17-year-old was charged with one count of handgun possession by a juvenile, according to Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Denver police said Friday that the two teens have not been arrested or charged in the death of Garcia. The investigation remains “active and there is not an arrest to report at this time,” the department said.

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