DENVER – Police released the arrest affidavit Tuesday for the security guard suspected of shooting and killing another man outside of two protests Saturday in Denver.
The affidavit for the arrest of Matthew Dolloff, 30, does not contain much information beyond what has so far been reported based on photos, videos and witness interviews from the scene that day. The Denver Post on Monday released a series of images captured by photojournalist Helen Richardson that show the key moments of the altercation.
It says the victim of the shooting, 49-year-old Lee Keltner, got in an argument with a man in the courtyard between the Denver Art Museum and Denver Public Library around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The affidavit said the dispute led several witnesses “to believe the men may engage in a physical altercation.”
There had been a “Patriot muster” in nearby Civic Center Park and a competing “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive,” as it was branded, in the hours before the incident.
The affidavit says the dispute was captured on Denver HALO cameras, which the Denver Department of Public Safety on Tuesday declined to provide through a Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act request from Denver7, citing the ongoing investigation. Police wrote in the affidavit that based on a review of the HALO video and the other photos and videos from the scene, Dolloff “became in engaged in an altercation” with Keltner while Keltner was still arguing with the other man, who was not publicly identified.
Keltner hit Dolloff in the head “with an open hand,” according to the affidavit, after which Dolloff drew his handgun from his waistband and shot Keltner as Keltner discharged his can of OC spray, police wrote. Police said Saturday they had recovered two guns and a can of OC spray from the scene, though the affidavit does not mention the second gun.
The affidavit says that Dolloff was taken into custody while he was still holding the weapon. It says Keltner was pronounced dead at Denver Health Medical Center about 30 minutes after the shooting and does not contain further information.
Dolloff was working as private security guard
Dolloff is being held for investigation of first-degree murder but has yet to be formally charged.
He was working as a private security guard who was hired by Denver NBC affiliate 9News through Pinkerton, though Pinkerton said in a statement Monday that Dolloff “is not a Pinkerton employee but rather a contractor agent from a long standing [sic] industry vendor” and that it would cooperate with the investigation.
9News said in a statement over the weekend it had been using private security for months while covering this summer’s protests, and Pinkerton has not identified the contractor for whom they say Dolloff worked.
Denver7 has previously used Pinkerton for security and has learned that Dolloff was present at the U.S. Senate debate hosted by Denver7 on Friday. Denver7 specifically asked that the guards not be armed, and Pinkerton agreed. No gun was visible.
9News management said in a new statement Tuesday that it had also asked of Pinkerton that the guards it supplied not be armed. The news outlet also released video shot from a producer's cell phone showing the moments before and after the shooting.
“As stated yesterday, 9NEWS does not contract directly with individual security personnel. 9NEWS contracted with Pinkerton and had directed that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed. None of 9NEWS’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed,” management said in a statement.
Dolloff was not licensed to operate as a security guard or to carry a gun on the job within the city of Denver, Denver7 confirmed over the weekend. Security guards operating with a license face potential penalties of up to $999 and a year in jail.
Elbert County authorities confirmed Monday that Dolloff was issued a concealed handgun permit in June 2018. He was cleared through CBI at that time. Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton said he has suspended Dolloff's permit until the issues are resolved in Denver.
The Denver City Attorney’s Office said in a statement Monday afternoon that the suspect in Saturday’s shooting, as well as potentially Pinkerton, 9News and others, could face “possible repercussions” because the suspect lacked a proper license.
“Licensed security guard employers that hire unlicensed security guards could face disciplinary actions against their licenses ranging from a fine, to suspension, to revocation. Businesses could also face criminal charges for permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services. Regarding Matthew Dolloff, there could be civil or criminal actions taken, or both, against Mr. Dolloff, Pinkerton, @9NEWS, and/or any other entity that hired and deployed Dolloff in an unlicensed security guard capacity.”
9News management issued a new statement Monday afternoon saying it does not contract with individuals for security.
“9NEWS continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement and is deeply saddened by this loss of life,” the statement said.
“For the past few months, it has been the practice of 9NEWS to contract private security, through an outside firm, to accompany our personnel covering protests. Pinkerton, the private security firm, is responsible for ensuring its guards or those it contracts with are appropriately licensed. 9News does not contract directly with individual security personnel.”
Dolloff family attorney claims self-defense
Dolloff’s family attorney, Doug Richards, is expected to discuss his view of the case with Denver7 on Tuesday. Richards told our partners at The Denver Post in an interview Monday that Dolloff feared for his safety and acted in self-defense.
“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,” Richards told The Denver Post.
Richards has so far declined interview requests from Denver7.
Attorney David Lane said this week that pepper spray would not necessarily constitute the use of deadly force in a self-defense claim.
"If the shooter believes that the victim was getting ready to pull a gun on him, that is a reasonable belief that he was in imminent fear of serious bodily injury or death, then he would be justified in using deadly force," said Lane in an interview Sunday. "Getting pepper-sprayed is not serious bodily injury. You are not allowed to kill someone because they pepper spray you or mace you."
This is a developing news story and will be updated.