Man handcuffed in front of daughter at Brighton park for allegedly violating social distancing

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UPDATE: On Tuesday, Brighton police apologized to Mooney, saying it was “evident there was an overreach by (Brighton) police officers.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — Matt Mooney feels Brighton police owe him a huge apology. The 33-year-old says he was handcuffed at Donelson Park in front of his 6-year-old daughter Sunday afternoon after police told him he violated the state’s social distancing guidelines.  

Mooney told the FOX31 Problem Solvers he refused to provide his identification to three police officers because he was confident he wasn’t doing anything unlawful by playing tee-ball with his wife and daughter at the park.

“She’s like, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to get arrested.’ At this point I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way they’re going to arrest me, this is insane.’ I’m telling her, ‘Don’t worry, Daddy’s not going to get arrested. I’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t worry about it,’ and then they arrest me.”

Former Brighton City Councilman Kirby Wallin recorded much of the incident on his cellphone, where you can hear his voice narrate the scene.

“He’s being taken by the Brighton police for playing softball with his daughter in an empty park,” Wallin said.

In an interview with the Problem Solvers, Wallin said, “I find it hard to believe with all the things going on in our communities, the only way to resolve a situation like this was to handcuff a father in front of his daughter.”

The sign at Donelson Park said “Closed” but in smaller print reads, “in groups of no more than 4 persons, parks remain open for walking, hiking, biking, running and similar activities.”

Mooney was just there with his wife and daughter. He said it was the officers who were violating social distancing guidelines.

“During the contact, none of the officers had masks on, none of them had gloves on, and they’re in my face handcuffing me, they’re touching me,” he said.

Mooney said he was released after spending about 10 minutes in the back of a patrol car but said he still deserved an apology.

“If we’re going to go ahead and start arresting people for no reason in front of their 6-year-old daughter, you’re just going to cause more problems later on,” he said.

Brighton police posted a vague statement on its Facebook page Sunday night that made no mention of Matt Mooney or his arrest.

Instead, it simply stated, “The Brighton Police Department is conducting an investigation into a situation that occurred late this afternoon at Donelson Park. This is an active investigation and so we are unable to provide additional information until the investigation is complete.” 

The Problem Solvers emailed follow-up questions to a Brighton Police Department spokesperson asking if it was the officers’ conduct and judgment, regarding Mooney’s short-lived arrest, that was being investigated. As of Monday evening, we have not received a reply.

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