Denver Patriot Rally shooter pleading self-defense

When we first learned the identities of both the shooter and the victim from the killing at the Patriot Rally in Denver on Saturday, the picture of what really happened remained far from clear. But as of this morning, a few new details have emerged. While some witnesses described it as nothing but an ambush or a cold-blooded murder, photos from the event revealed that Lee Keltner had slapped the shooter, Matthew Dolloff, in the face and was deploying a can of mace in his direction when he was shot. This led me to wonder if prosecuting Dolloff might not be as much of a slam-dunk as one might suspect.

Sure enough, Dolloff now has an attorney and he’s indicating that his client is pleading not guilty. Their claim is that the shooting was a case of self-defense, and as I predicted yesterday, Dolloff will claim that he was in fear for his life. (Associated Press)

An armed security guard for a television station who is suspected of fatally shooting a man following an altercation after opposing protests was acting in self-defense when he opened fire, a lawyer representing his family said Monday.

Matthew Dolloff, 30, was being held in jail for investigation of first-degree murder following Saturday afternoon’s shooting near Civic Center Park as protesters filed out of the park following the demonstrations — a “Patriot Muster” and a “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive” counterprotest.

Doug Richards, who said he is representing Dolloff’s family, said the man who was shot reached into his shirt which made Dolloff fear for his safety, leading him to shoot.

Saying that Dolloff felt “fear for his safety” in a situation like that isn’t totally unreasonable. Keltner had already slapped him in the face and was spraying mace in his direction. But does that rise to the level of literally fearing that his life was in danger? The attorney went on to attempt to bolster Dolloff’s claim further by saying that he’d seen Keltner “reach into his shirt.” That’s a curious claim to make because the pictures from the scene of the shooting clearly show that the victim was wearing a t-shirt. How do you “reach into” a t-shirt? If it was a button-down shirt, I suppose you might conceivably fear that he had a shoulder holster under it, but a t-shirt? You’re not going to be able to quickly pull anything out by reaching down past your neck. He might have meant to say reaching “under” the shirt, which could imply going for something tucked into his pants.

That possibility could tie into the next new item in the report. The police are saying that they recovered a can of mace and two handguns at the scene. Does that mean that Keltner actually had a firearm on him and he was in the process of drawing it when Dolloff fired? If that’s the case, then the defense’s case suddenly gets a lot stronger. Of course, it’s not impossible that Dolloff was packing two weapons or someone else at the scene had one and simply ditched it when law enforcement arrived.

The other question hanging over this encounter was one we also touched on yesterday. The local television station confirmed that they had hired Dolloff to work security during the event, but there was no indication that he was licensed to work as a security guard. As it turns out, he wasn’t. CBS Denver reports that Dolloff “did not have a license to work as a security guard in the city.” However, Pinkerton confirmed that he had been contracted through their agency, but as a contractor and not an employee of their agency. Still, it sounds like Pinkerton shares in a part of the blame for not vetting him properly to ensure he had all of the required credentials.

As of this morning, Dolloff is still being held in jail while being investigated for possible first-degree murder charges. Whether or not those charges are officially made, are lowered to something else or dropped entirely remains to be seen.

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