DENVER, Colorado — EDITOR’S NOTE: 9NEWS is used to covering many different kinds of stories, but usually we’re not directly involved in them. For this reason, Casey Nolen from our sister station KSDK in St. Louis is covering the initial stages of the shooting and investigation.
The attorney for an unlicensed security guard who is accused of shooting and killing a man near downtown Denver during dueling protests told a judge Friday that Matthew Dolloff has been in solitary confinement for the two weeks since the shooting happened.
In a video conference hearing Friday, Dolloff’s attorney, Valerie Cole, argued his bail should be reduced from the current $500,000 for multiple reasons.
>> The video above is from Dolloff's first court appearance on Wednesday.
She said that Dolloff is not a flight risk, has strong ties to the community where he lives about an hour from Denver and is employable while he awaits trial – both as a security guard and in other fields. She also said Dolloff has nearly completed a bachelor’s degree that he is working toward.
Another urgent reason Cole said she wanted Dolloff's bail reduced is that she said he is stuck in solitary confinement because of threats against him.
She told the judge Dolloff has not had access to a shower or basic hygiene needs during his confinement.
Cole said his treatment, “borders on cruel and unusual.”
But prosecutors countered saying, “Mr. Dolloff brought a gun to downtown Denver and killed someone…that’s a bottom line here.”
Judge John Madden said he was “confident” he knew how he would rule on Dolloff’s bond and other procedural concerns his attorney’s raised, but he wanted a written record of his decision given the high profile nature of the case. Madden said he would rule by Monday and set Dolloff’s next court appearance for November 20 at 1:30 p.m.
During Friday's hearing, Cole also submitted more than 20 reference letters from Dolloff’s family and friends who vouched for his character and described him as “thoughtful, non-violent, respectful…natural protector,” and “mediator” among other things.
Cole said the shooting was in an “obvious” case of self-defense, a characterization prosecutors refuted.
Dolloff has been held in the Downtown Detention Center since the Oct. 10 shooting that led to the death of 49-year-old Lee Keltner.
Dolloff was formally charged on Monday. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced that she was planning on a second-degree murder charge last week.
Dolloff was arrested on Oct. 10 following the shooting near the Denver Art Museum. It happened near the end of two dueling demonstrations that included members of Black Lives Matter and other groups on one side, as well as people attending what they dubbed a “Patriot Muster.”
According to the probable cause (PC) statement released by the Denver Police Department Tuesday, Keltner and another individual engaged in a "verbal dispute" and "both men yelled and postured" while walking with a group around 3:30 p.m. near the DAM during the rally. Witnesses told investigators they believed "the men may engage in a physical altercation," the PC statement says.
Keltner was then observed holding a bottle of OC spray prior to striking Dolloff in the side of the head with an open hand following an altercation in front of the DAM, according to the PC statement.
Dolloff then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired one shot at the same time Keltner sprayed the OC, the PC statement says. Keltner immediately collapsed, the PC statement says, and officers quickly took custody of Dolloff.
Keltner was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead at 4:05 p.m., the PC statement says.
Keltner, reportedly a Navy veteran, worked as a hatter and was also a part of Colorado’s Motorcycle community. The Biker Down Charity has started a fundraiser for his family, describing him as a husband, father and friend to many.
Dolloff was contracted through the company Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to contract private security to accompany staff at protests.
Pinkerton said it does not actually employ Dolloff – Pinkerton did not share the name of the company for which Dolloff worked. Pinkerton on Monday released the following statement via its Facebook page:
According to Eric Escudero, marketing and communications manager for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses, “there is no record” that Dolloff had a license required by the city to work as a security guard – and no evidence he’d had one in the past.
City law defines a security guard as “a person employed or engaged by a private security employer to perform security services.”
Dolloff was issued a concealed carry permit in June 2018, which was viable for five years, according to Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton. Norton said he suspended the permit shortly after the shooting.
Doug Richards, an attorney for the Dolloff family, said in a statement:
"Matt was acting in self-defense. Matt put his life and now his liberty in between the now-deceased and the 9NEWS employee. This was not a political assignment for Matt. This was simply Matt protecting your employee.”
9NEWS management released the following statement about the incident:
“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.”
An additional statement from 9NEWS management was released Tuesday:
"As stated [Monday], 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.”
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