Cellphone Video Shows What Happened Moments Before Pro-Police Protester Was Shot and Killed

Lee Keltner faced off with a counterprotester minutes before his fatal encounter with a guard hired by a TV station.
October 15, 2020, 5:14pm
Screen shots from video posted to KUSA-TV's YouTube channel

New cellphone footage is giving a clearer picture of what happened in the moments leading up to the fatal shooting of pro-police protester Lee Keltner by a security guard in downtown Denver last Saturday.

Keltner, a 49-year-old Navy veteran and business owner, was shot and killed after a physical altercation with the guard hired by a local TV station that had cameras on the scene covering dueling protests. In the cellphone footage shot by an unidentified producer for the station, KUSA-TV, and released Tuesday, Keltner is seen confronting a counterprotester and threatening him with mace minutes before his fatal encounter with the guard.

Keltner, who is white, confronts a young Black man who’s wearing a “Black Guns Matter” T-shirt, and a verbal exchange ensues. A nearby stranger, who appears to be a neutral party, is seen breaking up the verbal back-and-forth on camera before Keltner pulls out a can of pepper spray and walks off-screen.

While Keltner is offscreen, someone is heard confronting someone with a camera. It’s unclear if Keltner is the one talking, but when he appears again on camera, he is in a second confrontation, this time with Mathew Dolloff, the KUSA-TV security guard who was later charged with his death. 

“Get the cameras out of here or I’m going to f--k you up,” the person is heard saying off-screen.

Photos published by the Denver Post Monday that also document the moments right before the shooting show that Keltner approached the member of the press that Dolloff was protecting. As Dolloff tried to push him away from the journalist, Keltner slaps the security guard in the face.

Dolloff then draws his weapon and aims it at Keltner, to which he responds by using the pepper spray. Dolloff in turn fires his weapon, hitting the protestor in the chest. Police quickly moved in and arrested Dolloff. Meanwhile, Keltner was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later.

Dolloff was arrested for first-degree murder but has not yet been charged. The ongoing investigation by the Denver Police Department also revealed that Dolloff did not have a license to be a security guard at the time of the incident, and was hired by KUSA-TV through a third-party security firm called Pinkerton. Both Pinkerton and KUSA-TV can face legal action for hiring Dolloff for the job Saturday, according to the Associated Press, as it is illegal to employ unlicensed security in Denver.

But while police continue to investigate what happened last Saturday, far-right conspiracy theorists have already latched onto the incident, calling Keltner a “patriot” gunned down by antifa. Denver police have already confirmed to the public that Dolloff has no affiliation with anti-fascist organizations. 

Saturday’s shooting marked yet another instance of deadly violence during U.S. protests this year. Earlier this month, VICE News reported that while 96% of the more than 10,000 protests organized across the country since the death of George Floyd have been peaceful, there have been at least 70 different violent incidents involving guns at protests. At least 21 of those incidents have been fatal. These incidents don’t just involve pro-gun protesters on the right either; analysis shows that the left has also shown up to rallies armed with weapons and have not been afraid to use them.