DENVER (CBS4)– The Denver City Attorney’s Office is reacting to the deadly shooting at the Denver protests on Saturday with the possibility of civil or criminal actions for those involved with allowing an unlicensed person to perform security services. Matthew Dolloff remains in custody for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of Lee Keltner.
The shooting happened as two opposing demonstrations wrapped up in downtown Denver Saturday.
According to Denver TV station KUSA, Dolloff was contracted by 9News through the security company Pinkerton.
The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses confirms Dolloff did not have an active security guard license at the time of the shooting.
The Denver City Attorney’s Office released this statement to CBS4 on Monday afternoon, ““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 released this statement regarding the shooting on Monday afternoon, “9NEWS continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement and is deeply saddened by this loss of life. 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.”
The Denver City Attorney’s Office has already stated that it “will weigh any additional criminal charges related to the defendant possibly operating as an unlicensed security guard once the Denver Police Department completes its homicide investigation.”
As police continue to investigate the shooting, an attorney working with Dolloff told CBS4 he was acting in self defense. That attorney, Doug Richards, said over the phone that Dolloff has been working as a security guard for more than a year and was at the rally to do his job Saturday.
“Dolloff was acting in self-defense and doing his job,” Richards told CBS4. “He got his body between the 9News employee and the protester.”
Before Richards’ statements Monday, CBS4 spoke with Raj Chohan, attorney and CBS4 legal analyst, about the possibility of Dolloff arguing self defense. According to Colorado state law, a person is justified in self defense by deadly force when “a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate,” and “the actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury.”
“The video is going to be critically important because we are at least going to be able to see what people did in the moments leading up to the shooting,” Chohan said.
While pictures and videos of the incident show the protester sprayed a chemical agent at Dolloff, Chohan said that alone “almost always is not enough.” For a jury to come to that conclusion, Chohan said it may need more information regarding any threats or other weapons involved.
“There may be some context that goes along with this that we don’t know yet. For instance, if somebody was brandishing weapons or making threats and the person who was being sprayed in the face thought he was about to be attacked by weapons after getting sprayed,” Chohan said, “Without more we’re not going to know, and certainly, just getting shot in the face alone with pepper spray is probably never going to be enough for deadly force.”
Chohan also said acting as a security guard does not offer extra protections.
“Security guards are not licensed and certified police officers. They don’t have the same protections that cops would have under similar circumstances,” he said. “The analysis is really going to look at the factually specific circumstances of this case and whether or not the security guard acted as a reasonable person would under these circumstances.”