Pinkerton, the security firm involved in the 2020 killing of a protester, can resume operating in Denver (Local News Tips & Reviews)

The city recently renewed the firm’s license, after a judge overturned Denver’s decision to revoke it over the killing of a right-wing protestor in October 2020.

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)

Pinkerton, the security firm whose subcontractor shot and killed a protester in 2020, can operate in Denver again after the city renewed the company’s license Wednesday.

In 2020, 9News hired Pinkerton to protect journalists covering a protest, during which right-wing protestors and anti-fascist counter demonstrators had a standoff. At the protests, subcontracted and unlicensed guard Matthew Dolloff fatally shot right-wing protester Lee Keltner.

The official police narrative is that Dolloff shot Keltner after Keltner sprayed him with pepper spray. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann charged Dolloff with second-degree murder but later dropped the charges citing the strength of self-defense arguments.

Denver requires all security guard companies and individuals to apply for permits to operate and carry firearms in the city.

Pinkerton had a license, but had subcontracted the job to Isborn Security Services, who hired Dolloff. Isborn had a license, but Dolloff did not.

Following the shooting, Isborn surrendered its license. Denver also held Pinkerton accountable for failing to check Dolloff’s licensure status, suspending the company’s license. But a judge reversed that decision in 2022 on the basis that the city ordinance only applied to individuals, not companies.

Pinkerton let its license lapse during the litigation. The company reapplied in January, and now the city has approved its ability to operate, as well as carry firearms.

“The Department of Excise and Licenses complied with the judge’s order and issued the private security guard employer license after the city received the required documentation from the applicant,” said city spokesperson Eric Escudero.

Pinkerton did not respond to Denverite’s request for comment.

Escudero said private security guards have to complete an annual training. He added that the training can help prevent “violent encounters.” The city requires guards to complete 16 hours of training when first licensed, and eight hours of training for renewals. Denver also requires companies to inform them of all guards they employ and of any use-of-force situations.

“This case will hopefully serve as a significant reminder to private security guard companies in Denver about the importance of only employing licensed guards,” he said.

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