Protesting–honest to God protesting–is not supposed to be a fatal activity by any stretch of the imagination. However, this is 2020 and it looks like this is the time to break out the body armor if you’re going to a protest, or so it seems.
The latest incident took place in Denver, Colorado.
A private security guard working for a TV station was in custody Saturday after a person died from a shooting that took place during dueling protests in downtown Denver.
The shooting took place shortly before 3:50 p.m. in Civic Center Park after a man participating in what was billed a “Patriot Rally” sprayed Mace at another man, the Denver Post reported. That man then shot the other individual with a handgun near the courtyard outside the Denver Art Museum, according to a Denver Post journalist who witnessed the incident.
The man who was shot was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour later, the KUSA TV station said.
The station says they have contract armed security while working protests for a while now.
Initial reports said the victim was shot by Antifa, which doesn’t appear to be the case. However, some in the Denver area state the news station has a pro-Antifa slant and at least one reporter has openly expressed their support for the violent extremist group.
That said, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence at this time that the shooter was an Antifa supporter.
So, what happened?
It appears the guard and a protestor got into a verbal altercation, which lead to a physical altercation–the protestor apparently struck the guard. Then, things get muddled. The protestor began to use mace and the guard opened fire. Photographs show the two events happening almost simultaneously, so it’s difficult for us to tell based on those which happened first.
No one seems to have covered themselves in glory, here.
However, the shooter is now facing first degree murder charges and he is not in a good position to shrug them off, either.
For one thing, he wasn’t licensed to be armed security.
The suspected gunman who allegedly shot and killed a right-wing ‘Patriot Muster’ protester outside the Denver Art Museum on Saturday was not licensed to work as a security guard, officials have revealed.
Matthew Dolloff, 30, a Pinkerton contractor who was hired to serve as security for Denver station 9News, was arrested on suspicion of murder after he opened fire on Lee Keltner, 49, who deployed mace at him during dueling rallies on Saturday afternoon.
The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses on Sunday confirmed there was ‘no record for an active licensed security guard now or ever’ for Dolloff, who was hired to protect staff during the demonstrations, CBS 4 reported.
‘If he was operating as a security guard, he was in violation of the law,’ department spokesman Eric Escudero told the news station.
In other words, Dolloff had no business being there in that role.
Then there’s the use of lethal force against a less-lethal attack. Now, for many, someone trying to mace them is grounds to shoot. However, the law has specific requirements.
Here’s what noted firearms trainer Greg Ellifritz had to say on the topic a while back when he was in a similar situation.
I obviously didn’t shoot. Neither my partner nor I even drew our handguns. When I asked my friends why they would have shot, they universally stated: “If she pepper sprayed you, you could have been incapacitated. If you are incapacitated, you might not be able to defend yourself against a gun grab attempt. While you are fighting the effects of the spray, she could take your gun and kill you with it.”
While that is certainly a POSSIBLE outcome in the encounter, it is not a LIKELY outcome. There is a difference. While it’s POSSIBLE that 20 ninjas could repel down from my ceiling and kill me with a barrage of throwing stars, it isn’t LIKELY. Self defense claims require a REASONABLE expectation of suffering serious injury or death, not a POSSIBILITY of that happening.
In my opinion, if a criminal was using pepper spray and attempting to disarm his victim, it likely WOULD justify a lethal response. The problem is that the criminal actually has to be trying to take the gun for the victim to reasonably fear for his life. We need reasonable, articulable facts that would lead a person in a similar situation to believe that a disarming attempt was immanent. Mere possibility of an event happening isn’t enough evidence to keep us out of jail.
And, honestly, I think Ellifritz has a valid point here. Using a firearm without a clear indication that your life is in danger tends to slap you with a murder charge. Spraying pepper spray or mace isn’t that in and of itself.
So yeah, I think this charge is going to stick. I’m not sure about first degree murder–it looks like a heat of the moment kind of thing–but murder charges in and of themselves seem appropriate.
Unfortunately, I fear this won’t be the last murder we see take place at a protest.