DENVER — Prosecutors plan to drop a second-degree murder charge against a former television station security guard who shot a pro-police demonstrator following protests in downtown Denver in 2020.
Matthew Dolloff’s attorney, Douglas Richards, said the Denver District Attorney’s Office informed him by phone Thursday that prosecutors would dismiss the charge at a pre-trial hearing March 21. Dolloff did not face any other charges in the case.
“They just said they don’t believe they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt based upon the evidence,” said Richards, who declined further comment.
Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors had informed the family of the 49-year-old victim, Lee Keltner, that the case would be dismissed.
“In line with our ethical obligations, we cannot overcome the legal justifications of self-defense or defense of others,” she said in an emailed statement.
Dolloff was hired by NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver to protect a producer covering the Oct. 10, 2020, “Patriot Muster” demonstration and “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive” counterprotest.
Police say Keltner was arguing with a Black man as the rallies broke up before getting into an altercation with Dolloff.
Keltner slapped Dolloff in the head, and Dolloff pulled a handgun and shot Keltner as Keltner fired pepper spray at him, according to an arrest affidavit. A cellphone video taken by KUSA’s producer suggests Keltner was upset that his initial dispute was being recorded.
The video shows Keltner in a confrontation with a man wearing a T-shirt that read, “Black Guns Matter.” A bystander is trying to defuse the argument.
The video then shows Keltner, holding a spray can, walking out of view. A man’s voice — it’s unclear if it’s Keltner — is heard saying the area was no place for cameras.
“Get the cameras out of here or I’m going to (expletive) you up,” the unidentified man says. Keltner and Dolloff are then shown scuffling before the video stops.
The producer resumed filming after the shooting and tells responding officers he is with the press and says of Keltner, “That guy was going to get me.” He also says the security guard shot Keltner because Keltner used pepper spray.
Dolloff pleaded not guilty in May 2021 and was set to go to trial in April. His attorneys had argued that he was acting in self-defense when he shot Keltner.
Dolloff faced between 16 and 48 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.