Safety guard suspect in deadly Denver protest capturing acted in self-defense, legal professional says

Security guard suspect in fatal Denver protest shooting acted in self-defense, attorney says

Denver Police Department

Matthew Robert Dolloff

The 30-year-old security guard, suspected of shooting and killing a protester in Denver on Saturday, was acting in self-defense when he opened fire, a lawyer for the suspect's family said.

During one confrontation, a protester who took part in a Patriot Rally at the Civic Center – identified by the family as Lee Keltner, 49 – hit Matthew Robert Dolloff while he was holding a can of pepper spray. Photos of the incident show this. Keltner used the spray and Dolloff opened fire, although it is not clear in the photos that first appeared.

Dolloff saw Keltner reach into his shirt and fear for his safety, said family attorney Doug Richards.

Police and 9News said Dolloff was working as an assigned security officer for the television station at the time of the shooting, although city officials say they have no record of his being approved for such work in Denver.

"I think it's important to realize that this is someone who is working on the protest to protect First Amendment rights," Richards said in an interview Monday. “He wasn't on behalf of an organization or to advance a political agenda. You can see in the pictures that he put his body between the protesters and the reporter. Matt did everything he was supposed to do and everything he was trained to do. "

Dolloff had worked as a private security officer at a number of Colorado events for more than a year, Richards said. The night before the shooting, Dolloff was working as an armed security guard in a debate between Senate candidates in Colorado, Richards said. This debate took place in the Denver television studio7 and was co-hosted by The Denver Post and Colorado Public Radio.

Denver7 confirmed Monday that Dolloff was one of the guards at the debate, but denied that he was armed. "We don't use armed guards," Denver7 news director Holly Gauntt said in an email. "We always told Pinkerton that we wanted unarmed guards."

Dolloff did the security jobs as a contractor through Pinkerton, Richards said. The attorney said Monday he was unsure of what security training Dolloff had or what body was doing the training. He also said he did not know if Dolloff was licensed as a security officer in Denver. Such licenses are required to work in private security in the city.

"Even if he didn't have the Denver specialty security license, that didn't stop Pinkerton from putting Matt on this job, and it doesn't change the fact that Matt was acting in self-defense," said Richards.

Pinkerton officials issued a statement Tuesday expressing condolences to those affected by the shooting.

"Regarding the Denver incident on October 10th, the agent in question is not a Pinkerton employee, but a contractor for a long-time industry provider," the statement said. “Security professionals often serve as a guide to protecting media teams in potentially dangerous situations or in hostile environments. We work fully with law enforcement agencies in their investigations. "

A PR consultant working for Pinkerton did not answer a question from The Post about the name of the provider. A representative for 9News also didn't respond to a Post request for an interview about the shooting on Monday.

The Denver Attorney's Office and the city government responsible for licensing are investigating Dolloff's licensing and determining what penalty, if any, should be levied on the parties involved.

"Licensed security guards who hire unlicensed security guards could take disciplinary action against their licenses, ranging from a fine to suspension and revocation," prosecutors said in a statement Monday. “Companies could also face criminal prosecution for allowing or directing an unlicensed person to provide security services. Civil or criminal action, or both, could be taken against Mr. Dolloff, Pinkerton, 9News and / or any other entity that Dolloff has hired and employed as an unlicensed security officer with respect to Matthew Dolloff. "

The Elbert County Sheriff & # 39; s Office granted Dolloff a covert transfer license in June 2018 that was valid for five years, Sheriff Tim Norton said. The sheriff's office suspended the license after the shooting pending the results of the criminal investigation, he said.

Dolloff worked in the security profession to help fund his education at the University of Colorado in Denver, where he had nearly undergraduate degrees in political science, Richards said.

Dolloff's family has received hate mail and death threats over the shooting, the lawyer said.

"They are essentially hiding in the moment because people think this was a political event," said Richards.

Dolloff stayed without bond at the Downtown Detention Center in Denver on Monday. The public prosecutor had not officially charged him until Monday afternoon. He was arrested on suspicion of first degree murder.