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Businesses That Hired Unlicensed Security Guard Matthew Dolloff Could Face Criminal Charges In Deadly Shooting

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.

Fatal Shooting in Denver Amid Dueling Protests
Two men clash after dueling rallies in Downtown Denver on October 10, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. The man on the left side of the photo sprays what appears to be pepper spray at the man on the right side of the image. The man at right, fires his gun at the protester at left. The shooting happened as opposing rallies by far-right and far-left activists were ending. The shooter has been identified as Matthew Dolloff. He is being held for investigation of First Degree Murder in connection with this shooting. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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.

Matthew Dolloff Booking Photo from DPD
Matthew Dolloff (credit: Denver Police)

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."

Dualing rallies in Denver leaves one dead
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 10: Police try to keep dueling rallies separated from one another on October 10, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Two rallies, one right-wing and one left-wing, took place at the same time in Civic Center Park. One person has died and another man, who Denver Channel 9News confirmed was a private security guard contracted by them, is in custody after a shooting during dueling protests Saturday in downtown Denver. The rallies at Civic Center on Saturday came less than a month before a presidential election and amidst a global pandemic that has the nation on edge. Until the shooting, the protests mostly consisted of each group chanting and yelling at one another from across the amphitheater, which separated the two groups. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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."

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