Prosecutors to drop murder charge in Denver security guard shooting

Posted at 7:56 AM, March 14, 2022 and last updated 12:41 AM, December 13, 2022

By Blair Miller

DENVER (KMGH) – Prosecutors plan to drop the second-degree murder charge filed against an unlicensed security guard who shot and killed a man outside of competing rallies in Denver in October 2020, according to the man’s attorney and the district attorney’s office.

This photo provided by the Denver Police Department shows Matthew Dolloff.  (Denver Police Department via AP)

Matthew Dolloff, 32, had pleaded not guilty last May to the murder charge, which was filed after he shot and killed 49-year-old Lee Keltner in October 2020 outside of competing political rallies near Civic Center Park.

Douglas Richards, one of Dolloff’s attorneys, told KMGH-TV that Denver District Attorney’s Office prosecutors had told him they would move to dismiss the case at a March 21 pre-trial conference.

Carolyn Tyler, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office, confirmed prosecutors would dismiss the charge because there was not enough evidence to prove Dolloff is guilty of murder.

“I can confirm that having fully considered the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges, today we informed Lee Keltner’s family members that we will soon dismiss the criminal case against Matthew Dolloff,” Tyler said in an email. “In line with our ethical obligations, we cannot overcome the legal justifications of self-defense or defense of others. We are not able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Denver Post first reported news the charges would be dropped.

Dolloff and his attorneys have claimed he acted in self-defense in the shooting. He was working as a contractor that day for 9News, the Denver NBC affiliate owned by TEGNA at the time, through a contract with Pinkerton, which had subcontracted the work out to Isborn Security Services, who hired Dolloff.

According to an arrest affidavit, as the two rallies – a “Patriot muster” and a “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive” – were winding down that day, Keltner got into an argument with a man between the Denver Art Museum and Denver Public Library.

Dolloff got involved in the argument as the journalist he was assigned to protect filmed it. According to the affidavit and video and photos from the scene, Keltner slapped Dolloff in the face. As Keltner produced and started to discharge a can of bear spray, Dolloff pulled out a handgun and shot Keltner, who was pronounced dead at Denver Health Medical Center about half an hour later.

Dolloff was arrested immediately afterward.

In the days and weeks after the shooting, the city of Denver confirmed Dolloff did not have a license to operate as a security guard or to carry a gun in Denver. Last June, the city revoked Pinkerton’s license to operate as a private security company in the wake of the shooting. Both Pinkerton and Isborn Security had been cited for violating the city’s municipal code, and Isborn reached a settlement agreement with the city to surrender its security guard employer license and not seek another for five years.

After the March 21 pre-trial conference, the case was set to go to trial starting April 12.

KMGH-TV has also reached out to Keltner’s family’s attorney, which did not immediately respond to the request.

Mark Cornetta, a senior vice president for TEGNA and the president and general manager of 9News, said in an email the organization has “nothing to share.”

This story was originally published March 10 by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.