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Father of student killed outside school raises questions ahead of potential lawsuit

Luis Garcia, 16, was shot at an intersection near East High School in Denver on Feb. 13. He died two weeks later after being taken off life support.

DENVER — The family of a Denver Public Schools (DPS) student who died after being shot outside of his high school raised questions about his death at a news conference Friday, ahead of a potential lawsuit.

Luis Garcia, 16, was shot at an intersection near East High School on Feb. 13 and died two weeks later after being taken off life support. Denver Police have not made any arrests in the deadly shooting.

"To lose a son is something very devastating and sad," said Santos Garcia, Luis' father, through an interpreter at the news conference. It was his first time speaking publicly about his son's death.

Garcia took note of the Denver Police car outside the school Friday. He said that kind of security could have stopped his son's death.

"When I saw the patrol that they put in front of the school, I think maybe our son would still be here with us today," he said.

> Watch the full news conference below:

Matthew Berringer, a lawyer for Garcia's family, said a "notice of claim" has been sent to the City and County of Denver, the DPS Board of Education and East High School informing them of the intention to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Luis' death.

"We're looking, in reality for three things: action, answers and accountability," Berringer said Friday. "Answers – how could this happen? Action – what is Denver Public Schools, the school board going to do in the future to avert a tragedy such as this? Accountability – I think that's pretty self-explanatory. The Garcias want those who they believe are responsible to be held accountable."

Berringer said DPS has not reached out for mediation since the notice of claim was filed. He said he expects a formal lawsuit will be filed at some point but did not say when that might happen.

They were also joined by members of the Parents-Safety Advocacy Group (P-SAG), a recently formed grassroots group made up of 1,200 parents, students, educators, DPS alumni, student caregivers and other concerned members of the Denver community.

P-SAG was formed after another shooting in March when a 17-year-old shot two administrators inside East High School. 

The shooting happened as Austin Lyle was being searched for weapons as a part of a safety plan, according to Denver Police. A source told 9NEWS Lyle died by suicide in Park County.

DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero said that the school district would add an armed officer to each of the district’s high schools after the March shooting.

“I acknowledge this action likely violates Executive Limitations 10.10 (a district policy), which mandates that I ‘not staff district schools with school resource officers or the consistent presence of security armed with guns or any other law enforcement personnel,’” Marrero said. “However, I can no longer stand on the sidelines. I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions.”

The school board voted unanimously in the summer of 2020 to remove 18 Denver Police officers from its schools and rely on the school district's own safety officers instead. The decision came amid social justice protests and was based on data showing the majority of students ticketed and arrested were Black and Latino students between the ages of 10 and 15.

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