In an October 2020 protest in Denver, an unlicensed security guard for a local news crew, Matthew Doloff, shot and killed another protester who was armed with pepper spray. Video and photos show Lee Keltner in a verbal exchange with protesters, then Keltner and Doloff struggle. Keltner hits Doloff’s head with an open hand. The two separate and Keltner has not raised the pepper spray.
Doloff then reaches for his concealed handgun. Keltner raises the pepper spray. Almost simultaneously, Keltner discharges his pepper spray at Doloff as the latter fires his gun, a photo catching Doloff’s pistol just after it fired as the slide recoils and a cartridge ejects (probably just as the bullet struck Keltner). Keltner was killed and Doloff was charged with second degree murder, but the defendant claimed self-defense.
What exactly lead to the Kelter/Doloff scuffle is still not clear. The photos and video do tend to show that deadly force was not proportionate. Doloff seems to have fired using the law enforcement reasoning of gun versus pepper spray. [While not decided at the time Suburban Defense was published, Keltner had the charges against him dismissed. Various internet sources indicate the Keltner is on the left’s political spectrum and thus would fall into a politically favored group].
We live in a disturbing time where self-defense is being delegitimized. Those who use force against rioters and mobs have faced prosecution. Political differences only makes this more fraught as some prosecutions may be politically motivated against ideological opponents or in a mistaken move to appease parties critical of the criminal justice system or politicians. De-policing and orders not to engage mobs has created a trend where police are seen to be “on the side” of the rioters.
In a lot of cases, officers are afraid of being charged or punished with a crime themselves. So police are in a place where they can’t protect you and won’t stop the rioters, but it is easier and safer for them to arrest you. This is a mistaken appeasement of the “mob” where justice is sacrificed for political expediency. Political views may also slant how a prosecutor handles a case and we are certainly headed into a time where that will become a common way of suppressing ideological enemies.
Several incidents in April of 2021 involved police arresting innocent motorists who were surrounded by a mob rather than targeting the crowd. In Oregon, one man was surrounded and, in fear for his life, brandished a firearm. He was detained then released after police dispersed the crowd. What if the crowd had the numbers, weapons, and intent to lynch the motorist at that point?
Again, it is easier for police to arrest you, the law-abiding, compliant citizen with no grievance than it is for them to disperse or arrest the mob. The rioters and protesters are politically favored; in many cases politicians openly approve of this behavior. In the other cases they are too afraid of criticism and the effects of rioting to do anything about it. Instead, they turn on the good citizen who defends himself. Some sort of perverted logic tells them that if they prosecute the good guy, the mob will relent.
Individual citizens have stepped up to protect their communities and have found themselves painted as aggressors or criminals. That is a risk you will face if you stand up for yourself, but the alternative will be worse if you do nothing. Weakness is always exploited in the long run.
Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot three men who were attempting to kill him. Rittenhouse was separated from his group and assaulted by several rioters. Two were killed and a third grievously injured. One man was a sex offender and wanted for domestic violence. Another was a felon who strangled someone and was also accused of domestic violence. The third had been arrested for prowling shortly before the shooting.
The incident was captured on video and any sane person would conclude that Kyle was acting in self-defense, yet he is being treated like a terrorist notwithstanding the fact he was targeted for murder by those three. Despite clear video evidence of the attacks and the shootings being done in obvious self-defense, Rittenhouse was charged with murder.
You may be overcharged in order to try and appease the mob. My department turned a road rage incident from a simple Vehicle Code misdemeanor into a hate crime and felony. Based on this guy yelling a racial slur and throwing something, detectives got a search warrant and seized his guns. I seriously doubt being a jerk justifies going that far. Politicians and police today are so utterly terrified of being called racists, justified or not, that they will not defend you. I think seeing law enforcement take a knee says it all.
If you are forced to defend yourself, expect the full weight of the hate mob against you. Sure, you may be arrested, booked, and bailed out, but expect your personal information to be found and leaked. Angry people may try to get your employer to fire you. Persons may come to your house to intimidate you or vandalize your home. Don’t forget the death threats. All it takes is one loony unhinged enough to follow through with murder.
It doesn’t take violence to ruin lives. How many stories have we heard that someone did something that the rage mob didn’t like, so the mob got that person fired? People will destroy other’s livelihoods for perverse fun. You might survive the shooting, but can you survive the court of public opinion?
An army sergeant who confronted a suspicious man in his neighborhood, after an incident of sexual harassment and other concerning behavior, was slandered as a racist by the sheriff. The person the sergeant accused fit the suspect description. All it took was a video without context and idiots on Twitter calling the Internet rage mob to show up. The army opened an investigation. This man lawfully confronted someone in his neighborhood who didn’t belong and, without the formality of a trial, is being tried by opinion simply because the suspicious man was black. Never mind the fact that race had nothing to do with it and the sergeant never used a racial slur.
In 1992, LAPD officers arrested Korean store owners who tried to stop their stores from being looted and burned. Videos still exist of officers disarming and cuffing up these store owners while the same officers do nothing to stop the rampant crime. Do not assume that police are on your side and expect that your actions, legal and moral as they may be, will be twisted to be used against you.
Citizen defense groups (opposite from the groups fomenting the unrest) have been formed in several areas to protect businesses and residents, with varying effects. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, made national news when the downtown area was protected by an ad-hoc group of open carriers when rumors of a looting mob were circulated. Video of a neighborhood group guarding the entrance to their subdivision in Washington was also making the rounds.
This is not without danger. Those Koreans in 1992 were detained improperly by LAPD, who did not understand the open carry laws (at the time) or were uncertain of what was occurring. For instance, Washington has recently criminalized open carry within 250 feet of a protest, making armed self-defense with a long-gun possibly illegal.
To conclude, our system of law and order is being perverted in many cases to punish the people who try to stop crime. Whatever you do, be cognizant of this fact and circumspect about your behavior. “Better judged by twelve than carried by six,” may indeed prove to be prophetic.
Note: this an adaptation from my non-fiction book Suburban Defense: A cop's guide to surviving riots, civil war, SHTF, or modern urban combat, available on Amazon
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Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.