Despite the protestations from Denver shooter Matthew Dolloff that he acted in self-defense, it sounds like the law enforcement officials investigating the case aren’t buying it. According to CBS Denver, The Denver District Attorney announced on Thursday that second-degree murder charges will be filed against Dolloff on Monday. The killer already has an attorney and they initially claimed that Dolloff was going to dispute the charges, but the DA clearly feels she has a winning case. It’s possible that some plea bargaining may be taking place in the background, but we probably won’t know about that until after the weekend.
The security guard accused of shooting and killing a man at a protest in Denver last weekend will be charged with second-degree murder. Matthew Dolloff, 30, was hired by TV station 9News, through the security company Pinkerton. Dolloff is accused of killing 49-year-old Lee Keltner. Records show Dolloff did not have the license required to work as a security guard in Denver.
On Thursday, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced plans to charge Dolloff. If convicted, he faces a mandatory prison sentence of between 16 and 48 years.
Video released earlier this week shows the seconds before and after Saturday’s deadly shooting. In the video, you can see a verbal altercation involving Keltner and another man, who are standing between the Denver Public Library and the Denver Art Museum.
Every since Keltner was killed, the details of what happened have been trickling out while we awaited some sort of official statement from the police. The still pictures available of the fatal encounter and the moments leading up to it certainly left room for questions, but the fact that the DA is going with a murder charge rather than some sort of homicide or reckless endangerment rap probably means that the prosecutors are pretty sure they can make the charge stick. Dolloff was originally being held for “investigation of first-degree murder,” but the DA seems to feel more confident in second-degree.
A couple of things have changed since the initial reports emerged, making the case against Dolloff look stronger. For one thing, the first police reports we talked about here said that two handguns were found at the scene. But the official court documents make no mention of a second firearm, so that may have been an error. If Keltner had had a weapon on him and was drawing it, Dolloff’s claim of self-defense would have been a lot stronger. That no longer appears to be the case.
The next item we’ve received is the cellphone video that was shot by the producer from the news team Dolloff was hired to protect. While it doesn’t show the actual moment of the shooting it includes a lot more of the interactions taking place prior to the shot being fired. This is from the Colorado Sun. Note that at approximately the 1:43 mark in the video, the producer stops recording and they switch to a video that was being live-streamed by another rally attendee for 12 seconds. Then it cuts back to the producer’s video that began again as police arrived and took charge.
Unfortunately (for purposes of the investigation), the bystander’s video seems to begin just at the moment of the shooting and he’s still a considerable distance away. The yellow puff from the mace can is floating in the air, but Keltner appears to already be on the ground. But the news crew video has the audio of what was being said after Keltner leaves the original confrontation with the individual wearing the Black Guns Matter t-shirt. (I previously incorrectly described it as a BLM shirt.) An unidentified voice that may or may not be Keltner’s is heard yelling at the camera crew, telling them to get the cameras out of there and threatening to “f*** them up.”
We already know that in the nine seconds between Keltner’s departure from the confrontation with the guy in the BGM shirt and the firing of the fatal shot, something happened. Either Keltner or someone with him made verbal threats directed at the news crew. Keltner slapped Dolloff in the face and deployed mace in the direction of the news crew. Neither the available videos nor the still pictures show Keltner reaching into his pockets. So was that sufficient provocation for Dolloff to fire at him?
In the last portion of the video above we hear the producer repeatedly defending Dolloff to the police, saying that his security guard “saved my life” and insisting that Keltner had maced him and was “coming after” them. That testimony, along with the rest of the videos and pictures, is probably where the defense will hang their not-guilty plea. Of course, the District Attorney may have more evidence being held in reserve to build an even stronger case that we haven’t seen yet. But if not, this still doesn’t look like a slam dunk for them. I’ll let all of you be the judge for now, at least until an actual judge gets involved.