News and Commentary

Denver Shooter Who Killed Right-Wing Protester Plans To Plead Self Defense
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 10: Two men clash after dueling rallies in Downtown Denver on October 10, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. The man on the left side of the photo sprays what appears to be pepper spray at the man on the right side of the image. The man at right, fires his gun at the protester at left. The shooting happened as opposing rallies by far-right and far-left activists were ending. The shooter has been identified as Matthew Dolloff. He is being held for investigation of First Degree Murder in connection with this shooting. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A Denver, Colorado, security guard arrested for shooting a right-wing protester at a rally over the weekend will say he “acted in self-defense” because he feared the protester was “reaching into his shirt” to pull out a weapon, according to his legal team.

Matthew Dolloff was reportedly hired, through security conglomerate Pinkerton, to serve as protection for a local news crew covering dueling riots in downtown Denver on Saturday. The Patriot Rally, a group of conservatives, Trump supporters, and “right-wing” protesters were holding a demonstration in support of law enforcement, and were interrupted by an opposition protest billed as an “Antifa/BLM soup drive.” Both sides appeared primed for conflict.

Dolloff, the New York Post reports, is “being held in a first-degree murder investigation in the caught-on-video death of Lee Keltner,” a Navy veteran. Ketner reportedly “struck [Dolloff] while holding a can of what appears to be pepper spray, photos of the incident show. Keltner used the spray and Dolloff opened fire, though it’s not clear in the photos which occurred first,” the Denver Post added.

Dolloff has not yet been charged.

Dolloff’s attorney, Doug Richards, told the Denver Post on Monday that “Dolloff saw Keltner reaching into his shirt and feared for his safety” because he thought Keltner had a concealed weapon.

Richards says they are also demanding that Dolloff be considered separate from the protest because he was “working to protect” First Amendment rights and not actively exercising them.

“I think it’s important to recognize that this is somebody who is at the protest working to protect First Amendment rights,” Richards said. “He was not there on behalf of any organization or to advance any political agenda. You can see in the images that he put his body in between the protester and the reporter. Matt was doing everything he was supposed to do and everything he was trained to do.”

Although internet sleuths have been working to uncover information about Dolloff’s background, none of those details have been confirmed, leaving only speculation. Pinkerton, the agency hired to provide security to Denver’s 9NEWS during the rally, says that while Dolloff was assigned to the job, he was an independent contractor, not an employee. It also appears Dolloff lacked the necessary license to serve as a private security guard, something his lawyer says is immaterial to the case.

“Dolloff picked up the security jobs as a contractor through Pinkerton,” Richards told the Denver Post adding that “he did not know exactly what security training Dolloff had or what entity provided the training. He also said he didn’t know whether Dolloff had a license to work as a security guard in Denver. Such licenses are required to work in private security in the city.”

“Even if he didn’t carry the special Denver security license, it didn’t stop Pinkerton from sending Matt into that job and it doesn’t change the fact that Matt was acting in self-defense,” the lawyer claimed.

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