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Did Denver Shooter of Right-Wing Protester Just Get Away With Murder?

Did Denver Shooter of Right-Wing Protester Just Get Away With Murder?

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced that she was dropping second-degree murder charges initially brought against Matthew Dolloff over the October 10, 2020 political rally related shooting death of Lee Keltner. Yet photographic evidence suggests more than enough probable cause to justify testing self-defense claim at trial

In what some might suspect was an opportunistically-timed news dump this past Friday, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced that she was dropping second-degree murder charges initially brought against Matthew Dolloff over the October 10, 2020 political rally related shooting death of Lee Keltner, as reported in the Denver Post last Friday.

Keltner was reportedly protesting from the right side of the political spectrum, whereas Dolloff reportedly has political ties to Antifa and other left-wing organizations.

I wrote extensively on this shooting shortly after occurred in these two block posts, which I’ve temporarily made open-access:

Denver Shooting Errors: “OC is Non-Deadly Force!” and “Han Shot First!” (October 12, 2020)

Denver: Provocation with Intent (October 13, 2020)

In those two blog posts are largely explained the relevant legal concepts and Colorado-specific law that would apply to a use-of-force analysis in this instance (or, really, any similar use-of-force event within Colorado). That includes an exploration of Colorado’s self-defense law, explained using our own five elements of self-defense framework (free infographic here), as well as how self-defense as a legal justification could have been lost by Dolloff, Keltner, or both.

One remarkable facet of this event is that the actual culminating moments in the confrontation were captured frame-by-frame by a local news photographer.  That sequence of photos would seem to provide more than sufficient probable cause for DA McCann to have tested Dolloff’s claim of self-defense at trial. (You can find the entire sequence of photos at this Denver Post link; here I use only a select few of those photos for purposes of commentary and criticism.

One notable early photograph (#2633, timestamp 3:36:52 pm) of the confrontation between Dolloff and Keltner shows Keltner delivering an open-hand slap to Dolloff’s face, as Dolloff’s own arms are extended at Keltner.  At this point, Keltner is holding a can of bear spray in his right hand, pointed towards the sidewalk.

That slap by Keltner is delivered with sufficient force to knock Dolloff’s head around beneath his ballcap.  Nevertheless, it would clearly seem to be a blow best characterized as non-deadly in nature—that is, one not likely to inflict death or serious bodily injury.  Absent some aggravating circumstances—such as Keltner following up with a sustained series of blows—Dolloff would at most be privileged to defend against further similar attack with non-deadly defensive force.

In the next second (3:36:53), the following series of photographs shows Keltner maintaining his distance from Dolloff, and indeed, moving his weight and body further from Dolloff.  The can of bear spray remains pointed towards the ground and is moved further from Dolloff rather than closer.   A sustained attack or an intended imminent use of the bear spray by Keltner cannot reasonably be perceived in these actions.

Still within that same second, however, Dolloff has clearly made the decision to deploy deadly force against the no-longer aggressive Keltner.  We can infer this intent from Dolloff initiating the presentation of his pistol from its AIWB (appendix in-the-waist-band) carrying position, concealed by Dolloff’s button-down shirt.

The initial steps of this presentation are obvious to a trained individual in photograph #2640 (still timestamp 3:36:53)—Dolloff’s left hand grips and begins to raise the concealing shirt as his right hand reaches to grip the pistol in his front waistband.  As this is occurring, Keltner is neither advancing, raising his bear spray, or otherwise engaging in aggressive conduct.

Certainly, if I were to observe this conduct from someone acting aggressively towards me, I would reasonably infer that they are in the process of presenting a deadly weapon at me.  That this is so in this confrontation between Keltner and Dolloff is affirmed in the very next photograph, #2641 (still timestamp 3:36:53), as Dolloff progresses through the presentation of his pistol from its AIWB position, and his raised shirt exposes spare magazines for that pistol (note the red).

In that same photo, we can begin to see Keltner begin to raise his can of bear spray for the first time in his right hand.  It would seem reasonable to infer that he has realized that Dolloff has begun presenting a deadly force threat (a pistol) in response to what arguably was Keltner’s early initiation of non-deadly force (the open-hand slap).

Nowhere in the United States, including in Colorado, is deadly defensive force (e.g., a pistol) permitted to be used against a threat that is at best reasonably perceived as mere non-deadly force (e.g., a slap), at least outside the context of defense of highly-defensible property, such as one’s home, or some particular application of a specialized statutory provision, a context not relevant in this case.

It would seem, then, that Dolloff going to his gun in response to Keltner’s earlier slap, in the absence of any further ongoing aggression by Keltner would constitute an excessive and disproportional use of defensive force under the circumstances, losing Dolloff the element of Proportionality required for a valid claim of self-defense, and therefore losing Dolloff the legal justification of self-defense entirely.

Only after Dolloff has obviously begun to present his pistol at Keltner does Keltner begin to trigger the bear spray towards Dolloff, as shown in the very next photograph, #2642, now finally at timestamp 3:36:54.  This would apparently be a lawful, if ineffective, effort to throw off Dolloff’s aim by distracting him with the cloud of irritant spray coming at him.  Note that at the moment this photograph is taken, Dolloff has already fired the fatal shot, as the slide on his pistol is in the process of cycling—indeed, look closely and you can see the just-ejected brass just above the pistol.

At this point, the fight is effectively over, as the mortally wounded Keltner drops instantly to the ground, and Dolloff is promptly arrested by rifle-armed police present for the rally.

While there are certainly self-defense arguments that could be made here on behalf of Dolloff—and I’ve outlined many of those in the blog posts linked above—there would seem little doubt that Denver DA McCann has more than enough evidence in these photographs alone to amount to the probable cause needed to take Dolloff to trial on that initial charge of second-degree murder, if not some lesser-included charge such as manslaughter.

Instead, DA McCann has chosen not to try Dolloff on any charge whatever, with respect to his shooting dead of Keltner.

Prosecutors in America are given enormous discretion in deciding what cases to take to trial, and what cases to pass on.  Ideally, such decisions are based on the actual legal merits of the case.  Too often, such decisions are based on the political inclinations of the prosecutor.

While no prosecutor is bound by the decisions of some other prosecutor in some other jurisdiction in the context of some other use-of-force event, it is noteworthy that cases such as that of George Zimmerman, Kyle Rittenhouse, and Curtis Reeves were all very aggressively prosecuted with far less legal merit than exists in the shooting death of Lee Keltner by Matthew Dolloff on October 10, 2020.

Each of those aggressively prosecuted cases appropriately resulted in complete acquittals on all charges—the correct legal outcome given that the cases lacked even the probable cause that is theoretically required to go to trial in the first place, much less evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the use-of-force in question was anything other than lawful self-defense.

In the case of Dolloff’s shooting of Keltner, we see a use-of-force event in which there is substantial evidence contrary to any claim of self-defense justification by Dolloff—and yet this Denver DA has elected to announce last Friday that she is dropping any consideration of charging Dolloff with any offense whatever.

I obviously don’t have the ability to read the mind of DA Beth McCann.  I don’t know whether her decision to not prosecute Dolloff was based on politics rather than legal merit.

I do know this, however—elect politically-motivated prosecutors, and don’t be surprised when you get politically-motivated prosecutorial decision-making.

OK, folks, that wraps it up for me on the shooting of Lee Keltner by Matthew Dolloff, at least for the time being.

Until we next meet up, remember:


You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe!


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Killing the likes of you and I is what they want:

Far-Left Journalist, CNN Analyst Dances on Grave of Fox News Cameraman Killed in Ukraine:

This is maddening. I hope the family is suing the crap out of the TV station and this guy personally. The TV station will likely settle.. at least get a judgement against the shooter. IDK, this is so crazy.

    taurus the judge in reply to RobM. | March 17, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    Sue them for what exactly?

      There is a wrongful death here. Just because the DA doesn’t think it’s a criminal one doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of meat on the bone for suit(s).

        taurus the judge in reply to Gosport. | March 17, 2022 at 6:02 pm

        Even though I personally agree with you 100% and would love to see it, don’t count on it.

        In most statutory cases of self defense the person usually has at a minimum qualified immunity from suit in a no retreat state.

        It could be possible as there is no “finding’ of self defense but this would have a high bar for the suitors to overcome.

Subotai Bahadur | March 15, 2022 at 9:16 pm

This is Colorado where the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch are controlled by the Democrat Party, and the Judiciary functionally but not completely is. This is the City and County of Denver [it is both], which is has been absolutely controlled for generations by ethnically based Democrat machines. Over the last 70 years or so it has been Irish, Hispanic, and now Black. But always Democrat. There is no way in Hades that an ANTIFA supporter would be charged with killing a White Conservative.


Subotai Bahadur

I don’t understand this

    taurus the judge in reply to gonzotx. | March 16, 2022 at 7:24 am

    I’ll explain it for you. This is really one of “those cases” that would test the law.

    First, the laws ( as written, as interpreted with case law and everything else) of Colorado are the only standards in play so if this identical thing happened elsewhere, the answer would be totally different depending on whatever law was in place.

    In general, self defense ( use of deadly force specifically) relies on the alleged victims “perception” of the threat usually based on a “reasonable person standard”.

    That’s as open to interpretation as it can be and full of room to argue both ways.

    It kinda has to be that way because of scenarios like this.

    Guy with a heart condition ( no outward signs)- his level of say a “beating” to be life threatening would be far less than a MMA fighter in the same scenario. The “little old lady” defense and a million other examples.

    Some states list some scenarios but even then- much is left open to discretion and a variety of possible charges (if any)

    I “personally” agree its political so am not arguing that point but being a former LE, I can see where a prosecutor could “legitimately” have issues getting a conviction in a case like this ( mainly because of the video)

    “Technically” ( and legally) the shooting victim did bring a “weapon” and used it first. That’s really the problem because now its arguing what was in the mind of the other guy.

    I would have arrested the shooter (as happened) but then a prosecutor would make the further decisions.

    I had one once where the solicitor told the suspect that he “could” charge him but couldn’t seat a jury that would convict him and let him go.

      “That’s as open to interpretation as it can be and full of room to argue both ways.”

      Isn’t that what trials and juries are for?

        taurus the judge in reply to Gosport. | March 16, 2022 at 8:54 am

        Yes that’s exactly what trials and juries are for and if it were me, that’s where this would be decided but that’s the opinion of a former LE, not a prosecutor.

        I would personally hit him with man2 ( or whatever equal Colorado has) saying it was depraved indifference and pointing out the fact the shooter assisted in creating the incident and had some issues with his certifications and let his lawyers and the jury hash it out.

        That said, prosecutors have almost unlimited authority to decide to ( or not to) bring cases they don’t think they can win in their decision rights.

        That video does put this case in that gray category.

          I take your point and no, this probably wasn’t a slam dunk for the prosecution, But it needed to be tried. The reason why is because this case goes way beyond win or lose. IMO it needed to go to trial to prove that the law is applied without fear or favor.

          Perception is everything and conservatives are walking away knowing that justice wasn’t even attempted and liberals are walking away gloating knowing they got away with one.

          What the DA did helps nobody and gives the justice system a black eye.

        rwingjr in reply to Gosport. | March 16, 2022 at 8:54 pm

        Actually, if you look at all the photos in sequence, the guy with the gun first went up to the victim, grabbed his jacket, opened it, and went for the bear spray with his other arm. That is when the guy slapped him away, which is when the shooter pulled the gun. At the time it happened, I downloaded all the photos, and I put them together in a time-lapse video, so it is quite clear to see who the aggressor actually was. Technically, the guy only used his “weapon”, (non-lethal) only after he was first assaulted by the guy who had the lethal weapon.

          taurus the judge in reply to rwingjr. | March 17, 2022 at 8:38 am

          This is why a “civilian” analysis ( regardless of how sincere and well meaning) often convolutes an issue because they substitute personal definitions and perceptions for established legal definitions and applications resulting in a lot of error. Then there is the misapplied CSI effect without referencing applicable law and precedent.

          People need to remember and understand that one sides case is no stronger than the other sides ability to shoot holes in it ( legally) regardless of how it may look to a bystander.

          The “guy” was ( on that day only) acting as a hired security officer executing the duty of his charge. ( yes, the argument points of being armed, not qualified are salient points but mostly not germane to the situation as it unfolded- you don’t have to be “licensed” in most security applications so its a non starter as well as him being armed since he had a permit).

          From that totality of circumstances that “colors” the attempt to preemptively disarm a potential threat differently. ( doesn’t fully justify it but makes it far less than an “attack”)

          That “slap” ( in the eyes of the law which makes no distinction whatsoever regardless of what episode of Law and Order one watched) was a physical ASSAULT AND BATTERY in every jurisdiction under US law. (arguing it was non lethal is meaningless since a “slap” that busted an ear drum would be “serious bodily harm” and meet the legal qualification of deadly force).

          Colorado also has no “duty to retreat” so that slap alone could be argued effectively as a trigger for deadly force since the person was “hired’ to be there to do a job makes it even stronger.

          Now comes the spray- since it follows an “assault and battery” that can be seen as a “follow up” attack.

          This is also without any witness statements, other videos or evidence a prosecutor may have to further influence the decision.

          Regarding “aggressor”- that doesn’t mean ( legally in context) what you think it does.

          It could be argued that the security guards actions on the spray initially was in regard to public safety- that makes it NOT an “attack” or act of aggression. ( regardless if it was initiated by the mere presence of the spray since the spray by design meets the criteria of a weapon under statute)

          As stated earlier, I think this is a bogus political decision where I would have charged the guy so I’m certainly not defending the decision- that said, I also have the field experience to look at it objectively and can see several legitimate arguments a qualified defense attorney would use that would be very effective against the states charges to where a prosecutor could legitimately have serious questions on whether they could win.

          That “slap” ( in the eyes of the law which makes no distinction whatsoever regardless of what episode of Law and Order one watched) was a physical ASSAULT AND BATTERY in every jurisdiction under US law.
          No. That slap was provoked by illegal action (unless you can show Bear Spray Guy was actively threatening the people who had supposedly hired him for security). Your analysis fails from that moment forward without provocation for the act of assaulting Bear Spray Guy.

          The slap – though non-lethal, I think the same rules basically apply – was a defensive action against the assault being carried out by Shooter Guy.

          And that, right there, is why it needed to go to trial.

      As you mention – this should have been put before a jury, That’s where decisions like this are supposed to be played out. Since it’s actually arguable that he failed in several self-defense requirements, it should go into the court for adjudication.

      And that’s why it looks so political. Unless he’s a particularly bad prosecutor, this is nothing like Rittenhouse or Zimmerman.

        taurus the judge in reply to GWB. | March 16, 2022 at 11:17 am

        Yeah, arguable in several areas and I’m not familiar with Colorado law which may or may not define the requirements (including proportional self defense) further but lets assume all things “equal” and in general terms for discussion:

        The spray ( assuming the target had no knowledge of what type of spray it was and he isn’t required to) in and of itself could not only be considered a “weapon” ( by use and statute) but its a weapon that goes beyond the “extension of the hand” and could “reach out and touch” and by design is designed to injure “as a weapon”. (an incapacitating agent is a class of weapon).

        In many jurisdictions, that would give the “reasonable expectation” that the sprayer intended to cause bodily harm and serve as a legal trigger for deadly force. (as viewed in the heat of the moment from the perspective of the alleged victim)

        I could see a defense attorney arguing the “alleged victim” felt he was being “incapacitated” as a precursor for a worse beatdown after he was defenseless and feared for his bodily harm and life.

        That claim would have a good bit of horsepower given the totality of the circumstances. (Rittenhouse had a similar claim on some of the people too)

        So, even though I strongly disagree with the decision, I do see the basis of why a legitimate prosecutor might not bring a charge in this specific case given the video.

        taurus the judge in reply to GWB. | March 17, 2022 at 2:58 pm

        From GWB>That “slap” ( in the eyes of the law which makes no distinction whatsoever regardless of what episode of Law and Order one watched) was a physical ASSAULT AND BATTERY in every jurisdiction under US law.

        No. That slap was provoked by illegal action (unless you can show Bear Spray Guy was actively threatening the people who had supposedly hired him for security). Your analysis fails from that moment forward without provocation for the act of assaulting Bear Spray Guy.

        I would like for you to show me exactly what frame this “provocation” is in and exactly what it was please

        >>>The slap – though non-lethal, I think the same rules basically apply – was a defensive action against the assault being carried out by Shooter Guy.

        That was no “slap” as I said below- that was a full blown haymaker. That would qualify anywhere as potential to inflict great bodily harm which meets the statutory requirement (864-867).

        The only evidence I see that “could” meet the criteria of statutory assault is # 863 and that “appears” to be the shooter pushing back ( trying to stop the forward movement) of Keltner and that strike is already inbound.

        Please show me the pictures you feel where my analysis fails please so I can see what you are referencing because the ones I am looking at show things a bit differently.

    ConradCA in reply to gonzotx. | March 17, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    In Berkeley an ANTFA guy hit a number of conservative protesters on the head with a heavy metal bicycle lock. This was one of those U shaped locks that weigh.5-10 pound and would be comparable to hitting someone with a hammer. This was assault with a deadly weapon, if not attempted murder. However, as Berkeley is run by progressive fascists he was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and received probation!

McCann appears to be a ‘carceral state’ hard left idiot. That no charges are being filed in this case is an obscenity. They love their antifa out there.

Just like with Ashley Babbitt, killing conservatives is okay, but killing Leftists will get your life turned upside down.

    JHogan in reply to chrisboltssr. | March 16, 2022 at 3:04 pm

    Don’t even have to kill a Leftist for that. Making them ‘uncomfortable’ is sufficient to get your life destroyed. Especially when they are not-white and not male. And you are.

    This is what radical leftwing fascism looks like.

    Amerika is no longer a free country.

Denver is enemy territory, pure and simple.

I’m curious as to what Keltner’s shirt says, given that he is the conservative and his shirt features a large BLM (and I can’t read anything else).

If they sue the guy, does he get to plead the fifth the whole time?

    taurus the judge in reply to healthguyfsu. | March 16, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Unlikely on the 5th.

    He would have that right in a civil scenario but its not as absolute as it would be in a criminal case and basically only matters of material fact would be eligible in discovery etc.

    With that video, I don’t see much that the 5th would cover.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to healthguyfsu. | March 16, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    The “Fifth” is a critter of the criminal law. A civil action would be initiated by the family of the deceased and generally called “wrongful death”. The defendant is required to testify in the civil suit; declining to do so can be used by plaintiff as evidence he did something wrong, and the defendant’s version of the events would not be considered by the jury. Think of the OJ case: he had to testify in the Goldman’s wrongful death suit.

    The wild card is, however, that the DA’s decision to not prosecute today is not a bar to future prosecutors doing so. The defendant has not seen legal jeopardy,so is still open to being charged (or re-charged in this case). Murder has no statute of limitation, so the unprosecuted murder is still out there. And there are problems with how to handle compelled civil testimony as evidence in a future criminal action, should the civil occur before the criminal.

    As a note to others on CO law: Andrew is an attorney who specializes in self-defense and he is a resident of CO. So all things being equal, I would expect that if this case’s facts strayed very far from the CO standards that he would have spelled it out here.

    I don’t see bear spray as being particularly lethal. And if one has serious respiratory disability that would make it so, then I would not expect to see them out a riot where tear gas (of whatever formulation) is common… especially when also, they thought they should attend while “packing”. Convincing a jury that bear spray was sufficiently a lethal weapon would be a very tough sell…. Its just OC, the same stuff (or mace) that I carried for years on the job.

He may have dodged the criminal trial but the civil suit is a whole new ball game.

I do not agree with defunding the police so I am in the minority here. Would you wait to see what substance is being sprayed at you (acid, poison, bioweapon,etc) before you fired? I think the right decision was made in this case if you can believe the photo shown. The photo shows the pistol just fired, but the spray has been going on much longer. How do you know it was only bear spray???

    taurus the judge in reply to oldvet50. | March 16, 2022 at 8:46 am

    We might split hairs on our personal definition of what a “right decision” was in this case but as I said upstream I do clearly see why a prosecutor “could” have legitimate issues with this case.

    To your example ( again, in general terms- the reader’s specific state laws may vary) self defense…..

    Does not require a potential victim to “assess” the relative threat level ( take great effort to see if its a real gun or toy)

    Many states do not differentiate between a “weapon” and a lethal weapon ( or even define a weapon specifically so anything used can be a weapon)

    Most states allow presentation (not actual use) of a weapon as a grounds for “presumption” of a threat that justifies a response.

    That spray. This is 2022 and the “alleged victim” would have no way to know ( or requirement to see) if that was compressed air, bear spray, pepper spray or even home made nerve gas.

    Again, I believe this was a political decision but my personal thoughts aside I can easily see a legal issue here on both charging and convicting the shooter.

      Have you ever seen or heard of a single cause of homemade nerve gas in a spray can? The idea that that is even possible stretches credulity past the breaking point.

      Might as well argue that someone’s suppository could be a live grenade just because you can’t see it.

        GWB in reply to Voyager. | March 16, 2022 at 11:12 am

        You don’t remember the Aum Shinrikyo subway attacks in Japan?

          GWB in reply to GWB. | March 16, 2022 at 12:33 pm

          Huh. Why the downvotes? Am I wrong?
          Or, at least wrong enough to justify a silly statement like “The idea that that is even possible stretches credulity past the breaking point.”

          If you want to argue that a “reasonable man” wouldn’t view that as a likely possibility, we could go back and forth on that. But the idea that it just can’t be done? That requires ignorance.

        taurus the judge in reply to Voyager. | March 16, 2022 at 11:28 am

        Actually, I know of several homemade chemical agents and their use ( blood, mustard and nerve agents) and portable aerosols charged by home compressors/butane are available from every industrial supplier.

        Recipes are readily available from several books (I will not give names) from former publishers such as Paladin Press, Delta Press ( all defunct now) that are widely still in circulation.

        Its not only “possible” but actually has been done (more than you want to know)

        The “difficulty” of homemade chemical weapons isn’t the recipe- its the quantity required for saturation over an area for a lethal dose ( tens to hundreds of gallons for and the dispersing system ( need a backpack sprayer/fogger and basically a MOPP suit to protect the person unless an automatic system is used).

        But for a small “hand held” it would be a short simple cheap task.

          Aum Shinrikyo actually did the dispersal thing with trucks on two occasions, and both times it didn’t work well. (It backfired, sickening their own people.) I think “highly effective delivery” might be an order of magnitude above “doable” in the larger scheme.

        taurus the judge in reply to Voyager. | March 17, 2022 at 12:16 pm

        Lets also not forget the acid attacks that are popular in the EU too.

      OK, I was wrong. The shooter should have been prosecuted. He evidently was the first aggressor. I did not watch the video, only saw the picture. (I am averse to watching any video on websites since I refuse to watch any YT commercials). But just as I would not take a knife to a gunfight, neither would I take bear spray. The price of stupidity is sometimes steep.

        taurus the judge in reply to eccentric1. | March 17, 2022 at 2:32 pm

        That’s good because your link pretty much proves exactly what I have been saying (perhaps you should have actually read it first)

        go to 18-1-704 and read that first sentence

        Then read 2a as the second qualifier.

        Now lets look at the evidence (pictures)

        Then go to pictures # 864,5,6 &7- that “slap” is not the “girly slap” but a true full bore “John Wayne” open handed haymaker that took off glasses, hat, and spun him. ( there was enough force to take his right foot off the ground and knock him off his spinal axis)

        Plus this was right over the right ear drum.

        Go look at the pictures, its right there.

        I can guarantee anyone that meets the standard of GREAT BODILY HARM. ( reasonable suspicion of)

        To those who say he was “grabbing the spray” need to look at picture #863 and note 2 things.

        The shooters hand is firmly on the CHEST ( nowhere near the arm or spray) and the strike is already INBOUND.

        The shooters body is braced BACK so he couldn’t be just leaning forward ( and there’s only 6 seconds between the shot before it)- that’s hard to say the shooter was “grabbing” anything and there is certainly no picture supporting that claim.

        Plus, during the act of the shooter drawing, Keltner himself made no attempt to “retreat” but attempted to use his own “force”- i.e. weapon. (brought bear spray to a gunfight with the expected end)

    rwingjr in reply to oldvet50. | March 16, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    If you look at earlier photos, you will see the guy with the gun went towards the victim, grabbed his shirt, and reached to take the bear spray away from him.
    That is when the victim slapped him, as shown in this story. The rest of the story is accurate.

      taurus the judge in reply to rwingjr. | March 17, 2022 at 2:34 pm

      I did look

      #863 & 4 show a open palm ( as to stop a forward motion) with fingers fully extended. What picture shows this “grab” you are describing?

      What picture shows him reaching toward the bear spray?

The victim didn’t have enough melanin for politicians to pretend to care.

Lucifer Morningstar | March 16, 2022 at 7:36 am

So now that Denver District Attorney Beth McCann has decided to decline to prosecute Matthew Dolloff will the federal DOJ step in and charge him with murder & the violation of Lee Keltner’s civil rights? That’s what seems to have happened in other cases. So will it happen here?

Answer: Yes. Next question.

Little antifa schmuck had his itty bitty feelings hurt ‘cuz he was slapped. Poor baby. Had to punish big bad conservative. 😏

Don’t know why he didn’t shoot him in the knee, like Double-Barrel Joe had suggested.

(Good grip on the pistol, though.)

texansamurai | March 16, 2022 at 9:12 am

Little antifa schmuck had his itty bitty feelings hurt ‘cuz he was slapped. Poor baby. Had to punish big bad conservative. 😏

exactly–unfortunately appears that “bear spray” or any spray for that matter, can now be considered a “lethal weapon” in colorado–lord

    Go read Andrew’s post (linked at the top of the article) about the “OC is non-deadly” myth.
    It ends up being situationally based, depending on whether it’s used offensively or defensively. If it’s offensively, and it’s reasonably considered to be the prelude to further aggression (taking your gun, incapacitating you so they can bludgeon you, etc.), then it’s a “deadly” attack.

      taurus the judge in reply to GWB. | March 17, 2022 at 11:30 am

      I hate to say this but this time Andrew’s assessment is fundamentally flawed pretty much all over the place.

      But, like a lawyer, he is arranging the evidence that best suits his view and presenting it in his article which is what I would expect.

      Here is the flaw (looking at the totality of the entire event in sequence) in his assessment.

      The “lunge” for the bear spray can be viewed from a number of different angles but that’s not the statutory trigger here.

      When Keltner “slapped” the guy- that’s assault and battery (a felony) everywhere. This stuff about a “slap” and “non-lethal” makes no difference from a statutory perspective. (Go slap a LEO or a domestic partner and see what you are charged with- they are not going to make a distinction between an open hand or a fist either. The argument of “I didn’t mean to hit him that hard” has NEVER worked in a criminal case except with rare qualifiers)

      That alone (an attack in the commission of a felony) can trigger self defense (lethal) from a legal perspective. That’s not an “imminent” action- that’s an ACTUAL attack.

      Looking at the sequence, the SLAP apparently triggered the act of drawing the weapon. ( which would be justified by statute because its a felony)- the bear spray in that context would qualify as a secondary attack.

      People also need to remember that we ( as in talking, personal opinion and so forth) can attach things like non-lethal, slap or whatever but in most cases the law does not make such distinctions. (imagine that there was a legal standard of a strike had to have “x” ft lbs of energy to constitute lethal- how would one know or judge this in the heat of a moment?)

      Also, the standard is usually giving latitude to the PERSON UNDER STRESS and their perception ( not the Monday quarterback). A further qualifier is the situation in play at that single moment in time ( not a litany of what ifs).

      So based on the sequence of events, I can see a clear physical attack resulting in drawing a weapon and combined with the simultaneous drawing of the spray would be considered an “imminent” second attack ( another felony since the bear spray was NOT being used as it was designed and intended which is the statutory requirement)

      Like i said, I would have hit him with man-2 and let his lawyer prove self defense but I can see a prosecutor hesitating here. This isn’t an easy case to prosecute.

        “When Keltner ‘slapped’ the guy- that’s assault and battery (a felony) everywhere.” No.

        “That alone (an attack in the commission of a felony) can trigger self defense (lethal) from a legal perspective.” Not inherently a felony, so again, no.

        So, bottom line: No. 🙂

          taurus the judge in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 17, 2022 at 12:59 pm

          Negative counselor, simply put you are wrong in context with this incident. Plain and simple.

          There are jurisdictions where this changes a bit in detail but not significantly. A physical attack (making contact- battery) is a baseline requirement ( both components- the assault followed by battery) often used as a justification with the enhancements that Keltner was ARMED as well which usually will seal it.

          I have done many of them.

          I would invite you to show specific statutes in Colorado that say differently please.

          Thank you

          taurus the judge in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 17, 2022 at 1:13 pm

          In a further look, his working as a hired security guard (licensed or not) can place him in a protected class as a further enhancement.

          That’s without even digging deeper than the articles. There’s more than enough there to shore up a legitimate claim ( by statute) of self defense justifying the shooting. ( defined as a strong argument to be made by a competent defense attorney)

          Although I agree this is not self defense and the guy should be charged, I do see lots of things that make this far from open and shut (either way)

          As i stated earlier, I would have arrested him so I’m not in disagreement with that line of thinking and I think this was a purely political decision but what I think doesn’t matter. The facts in evidence do and there is a gracious plenty for a skilled defense attorney to work with here if he was charged.

          taurus the judge in reply to eccentric1. | March 17, 2022 at 2:40 pm

          Personally I believe that as well but the argument used is weak.

          That was not a “slap” ( as people commonly use the term)- that was a full powered open handed haymaker and from a guy with his obvious build packed a significant wallop.

          Anyone who thinks differently has never been on the receiving end of one.

Steven Brizel | March 16, 2022 at 9:25 am

This is the very woke NYS Bar Assn Journal
Does anyone know what happened in terms of a disciplinary proceeding with respect to two lawyers who pled guilty to firebombing a NYPD vehicle with Molotov cocktails during the 2020 riots in NYC? Were they disbarred, suspended or reprimanded or suffer anywhere near the same punishment as Giulani?

First rule of justified self-defense with a gun: if there is a way out you must take it. The video clearly shows the shooter had ample opportunity to walk away unimpeded. The decision of the prosecutor implies that Colorado now recognizes a “stand your ground” exception, which, in this case, would make it difficult to prosecute manslaughter let alone murder.

    CommoChief in reply to George S. | March 16, 2022 at 9:47 am

    In this particular situation the shooter should have walked away. IMO, he got hit, backed up to create distance, got emotional (mad/embarrassed) and let his emotion override his reasoning. He had plenty of separation from the victim and should have simply moved backwards and exited the scene.

      You are making the mistaken assumption that the leftist shooter wanted to avoid this. Dolloff set this up, created the confrontation, and shot down Lee Keltner intentionally. Had the political affiliations of the parties been reversed, the prosecutor would have thrown the shooter in jail without bail and demanded he be given life plus.

        CommoChief in reply to georgfelis. | March 16, 2022 at 4:29 pm

        Well no I not assuming that at all. I offered an opinion based on the facts presented as I interpreted them.

        That said I would agree that the shooter appears to be way too eager to draw and discharge his weapon so a staged confrontation or ‘set up’ is certainly possible.

      I think he believed he saw motion (no matter what still photos show) that made him think he was going to be sprayed. His emotional state (he just got b-slapped) had him worked up to respond aggressively. He probably never registered that the other guy was backing up. (Note that I’m giving him the BIG benefit of the doubt here.)

      One aspect to this that is relevant, IMO, is that they are outdoors. Bear spray is only really a threat if you can get a good wallop of it on the other person’s face. Being outdoors leads to a great deal of dispersal of the agent, and (again, IMO) backing up out of the confrontational range would actually negate the spray. But, again, it’s hard to think that way when your adrenalin has kicked into high gear.

    You’re wrong about the “first rule”. While Colorado is not a stand-your-ground state, many are, and you are not, in those states, required to retreat before deploying deadly self-defense.

    Also, standing your ground requires all the other elements of self-defense to be in place. As Andrew points out above, this is not necessarily so. And one of those is whether any threat is actually imminent. If the other guy is letting you walk away (and not preventing you from exercising your right to be where you are, conducting law-abiding activities), then it’s really difficult to claim “imminent” threat.
    Then there’s the whole “innocence” aspect, wrapped up in, basically, whether one of the actors was engaged in unlawful conduct – if the shooter was initially reaching to disarm the victim (either his pistol or his bear spray), then it’s very arguable he was committing a felony (at a minimum misdemeanor assault), and loses his innocence.

    So, no, this is not Colorado de facto recognizing a stand-your-ground exception.

I don’t know whether her decision to not prosecute Dolloff was based on politics rather than legal merit.
Actually, Andrew, you do. Only your professional courtesy has you saying otherwise.

BTW, Andrew, your second link isn’t really a link. It’s just a repeat of the words. (Your first link is good reading. Though I think the OC bit is better explained as “enabling” a deadly force attack, and not just a “deadly weapon” in and of itself.)

The shooter was the aggressor. He followed the victim before confrontation and created the conflict. This was the opposite of what happened with Rittenhouse. To me this shows that the decision not to prosecute was purely political.

2smartforlibs | March 16, 2022 at 12:27 pm

We are well past hypocrisy, this proves there is a hierarchy.

texansamurai | March 16, 2022 at 3:18 pm

whether he intended to do so or not, the shooter has changed the playing field for antifa from here on–will no longer be treated as a bunch of soyboy wannabes but rather as a presumably armed disruptor to be disabled/disarmed when at close range

had the victim disabled this wannabe at first contact, they’d both still be alive–better to fight an assault charge than to take a ride in a box

so be it

Good work on the analysis. Bad outcome.

If you look at the whole sequence of photos, you will see the guy who shot was the initial aggressor. He went towards the guy with the spray, opened his shirt, as if to look for a gun, and reached for his bear spray at the same time. That is when the guy slapped him, and then the guy pulled his gun and shot. I’m as pro-gun and gun rights as you can get, but this time the DA obviously did this for political reasons, not justice.

    taurus the judge in reply to rwingjr. | March 17, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I did look

    What # shows the shooter as the aggressor?

    No frame shows him opening his vest (at best #863 shows a vest possibly “flung” open as the hand is too far away for the fingers to have an effective grip)

    “as if to look for a gun” is unfounded speculation- his head is nowhere near a “looking position”

    There is no frame of the shooter “reaching” for anything and the “slap” is already inbound and clearly visible in the picture.

    Could you provide frame numbers that show what you are describing please?

We don’t have institutional power but we all should work on boycotting Denver CO, it is a fascistic state that well the rhetoric you are hearing about Putin that is what Denver CO thinks of you of course they won’t prosecute if someone kills you.

GravityOpera | March 17, 2022 at 4:56 am

Mr. Branca, I have followed your commentary on several high profile cases starting with Zimmerman and this is the first time I’ve found myself thoroughly confused by your article. I am hoping you see this and will provide some clarification.

There are video clips from before the first contact between Keltner and Dolloff which show that Keltner is the attacker and that he verbalized a threat of serious bodily injury. Why was this left out of your analysis and how would your analysis change if that information was considered?

Keltner had a semi-auto pistol in a shoulder holster. If Dolloff noticed the pistol during the initial contact how would that change your analysis?

If Keltner was holding his pistol in his hand pointed at the ground in the same manner would you be consistent and claim intent to use it could not be reasonably assumed? Why should intent to use the bear spray not be reasonably assumed when Keltner started the assault while already holding it? If the bear spray was not an immediate threat then how did Keltner spray Dolloff before being shot?

You refer to Keltner’s bear spray as if Dolloff knew what it was, but as I understand the standard is what the victim knew at the time and Dolloff could not have known what was in the can until it was too late because he had already been sprayed. How can any victim be reasonably expected to assume that an unknown weapon is less-lethal? There are airsoft and replica guns that can easily be mistaken for the real thing. Should victims assume that an apparent firearm is one of those toys until proven otherwise?

How does retreat work when the assailant is holding a ranged weapon? I would expect moving backwards would not be sufficient to terminate self-defense until out of range and Keltner was still within range of his bear spray and a stream type OC spray could have a much greater range. Without a weapon at what point does a couple of steps backwards count as retreat and not as regrouping to continue such as you see boxers and MMA fighters do? In my estimation Keltner displayed no intent to terminate his assault by action or body language. He does not discard his weapon, throw his hands up in a surrender position, or otherwise positively demonstrate he does not intend to continue his assault.


In my estimation Keltner displayed no intent to terminate his assault by action or body language. He does not discard his weapon, throw his hands up in a surrender position, or otherwise positively demonstrate he does not intend to continue his assault.

lord–hope you don’t carry