Security firm Pinkerton has reapplied for a license in Denver

An unlicensed subcontractor for the company was involved in the 2020 shooting of Lee Keltner.

Police officers stand between a soup drive and "anti-fascist" protest and a "patriot" rally in support of police on October 10, 2020 at Civic Center Park.

Police officers stand between a soup drive and "anti-fascist" protest and a "patriot" rally in support of police on October 10, 2020 at Civic Center Park.

(Eli Imadali for Denverite)
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Security firm Pinkerton, whose subcontractor shot and killed a protester in 2020, has reapplied for a security guard license in Denver.

While the application is currently pending, city code could get in the way of the Michigan-based firm being granted a new license to operate in the city.

Documents provided to Denverite by city officials show the firm applied for the private security employer license in early December 2022. The firm also seeks a weapons endorsement to carry pistols, tasers, batons and pepper spray.

Pinkerton’s issues date back to 2020, when 9News hired the company to provide security for reporters covering a standoff between right-wing protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators.

Toward the end of the protests, security guard Matthew Dolloff fatally shot Lee Keltner, who was part of a “patriot” protest. Police’s official narrative said Keltner struck Dolloff and sprayed him with pepper spray as the security guard drew and shot his gun.

Denver’s District Attorney Beth McCann charged Dolloff with second-degree murder but dropped the charges in 2022, citing an inability to overcome self-defense arguments.

At the time, Pinkerton was licensed as a security guard company in Denver.

But Pinkerton subcontracted the job to a different company, Isborn Security Services, who hired Dolloff as a contractor.

Dolloff was not licensed, but was hired despite Denver’s requirement that both companies and individual guards qualify for security licenses to both provide security and carry firearms.

“Denver has some of the strictest security guard rules and regulations in the nation, especially in the state,” said Eric Escudero, spokesperson for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses.

The city held Pinkerton accountable for Isborn’s failure to verify if Dolloff had a license. Isborn surrendered its license, but a judge reversed the decision to suspend Pinkerton’s license in 2022, ruling that the city ordinance cited applies only to individuals, not to a company. Pinkerton’s license had lapsed on its own not long after the shooting, and now with the litigation wrapped up, the company has reapplied.

Now, the decision is back in the city’s hands.

Many of the reasons for denial in the city code are objective: buildings must be up to code, applicants must be over 18 years old, applicants must comply with state and local laws, not owe fines to the city and not be convicted or incarcerated for felonies and other crimes, among other requirements.

But one requirement could leave the city room for interpretation. According to the code, Denver can deny applicants “Whose character and reputation show a pattern of conduct or personal history that does not demonstrate honesty, fairness, and respect for the rights of others or for the law.”

For now, the answer remains unclear, as Denver has not yet issued a decision. Pinkerton did not respond to Denverite’s request for an interview and did not immediately follow up to a second request for comment.

“There has been no decision made yet,” Escudero said, adding that he couldn’t comment on Pinkerton’s pending application. “It’s obviously an unusual case, because the past history is not something we see on a regular basis, but generally, if any licensee applies for a license, and they meet all the requirements, then they’re issued the license.”

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