A former police officer was enjoying a Sunday morning in a near-empty park throwing a ball with his daughter. Until Brighton police officers arrived and ruined it:
YAHOO NEWS – In an incident caught on video, a former Colorado State Patrol trooper said he was handcuffed in front of his 6-year old daughter on a near-empty softball field Sunday by Brighton police officers enforcing social distancing rules. The department apologized Tuesday afternoon, calling the incident an “overreach by our police officers.”
Matt Mooney, 33, told ABC News he walked with his wife and daughter from their home to a nearby park Sunday to play softball.
“We’re just having a good time, not near anybody else. The next closest person is at least 15 feet away from me and my daughter at this point,” Mooney told ABC News.
Police arrived soon after, Mooney said, telling him and others in the area to leave because the park was closed.
Mooney said he told officers that he was familiar with the posted rules and believed he and his family were in compliance and practicing proper social distancing. He said he refused to provide his identification when officers asked for it because he had not broken any law.
“Well, they didn’t like that idea. They then proceeded to make a threat against me saying, ‘If you don’t give us your identification, if you don’t identify yourself, we’re going to put you in handcuffs in front of your 6-year-old daughter.'”
Mooney said officers handcuffed him and placed him in a patrol car for about 10 to 15 minutes while they phoned a supervisor for guidance. The incident was captured on cellphone footage by former Brighton City Councilman Kirby Wallin.
“Yeah, it’s Sunday and the Brighton police are apparently arresting a dad for throwing a ball to his daughter,” Wallin is heard saying on the video.
In a statement, the Brighton Police Department said it was “deeply sorry” for the incident and is conducting an internal investigation.
“While the investigation sorts through the different versions of what took place by witnesses who were at the park, it is evident there was an overreach by our police officers,” the statement said. “It is imperative that we improve communication with our front line first responders so they are up to date on the latest rules in place regarding COVID-19 for addressing public safety.”
Mooney, who said he’s hired an attorney and is considering legal action against the city, declined to comment on the apology.
The former state patrol trooper, who now runs a construction company, said officers eventually let him go without issuing a citation.
This ‘arrest’ was absurd on its face. Not only was Mooney well over six feet away from his daughter as they were throwing a ball in a near-empty park, but it was his daughter, who lives with him! If one of them has coronavirus, they are both going to get it because they live under the same roof! So what if they aren’t six feet apart?!
Secondly, since the park was nearly empty there should have been no reason for police to even approach this father and daughter, and even less so to demand Mooney to identify himself.
This just demonstrates how out of whack these rules can change everything so that even well meaning officers are acting in fascistic ways. Thankfully they didn’t actually arrest Mooney and the department has issued an apology for what did occur.