Former police officer arrested for violating social distancing rules after playing catch with daughter in park


A former police officer was arrested Sunday at a park for violating social distancing rules while playing catch with his daughter.
Matt Mooney, 33, a former Colorado State Patrol trooper, told ABC News he was playing catch at the park near the family’s house in Brighton with the closest non-relative “at least 15 feet away” when police, who were not wearing protective gear, arrived and told people to disperse since the park was closed.
Mooney said he told officers that he and his family were not violating any rules and refused to give them any identification.
“Well, they didn’t like that idea," he said. "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.’”

Video of the incident, filmed by former city councilman Kirby Wallin, showed officers handcuff Mooney and put him in the back of a police cruiser while radioing a supervisor for guidance.
“Yeah, it’s Sunday and the Brighton police are apparently arresting a dad for throwing a ball to his daughter,” Wallin says in the video.

“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,” Wallin said in an interview with Fox 31 Denver.

Mooney was eventually let go and not given a citation, but the Brighton Police Department nevertheless issued a public apology on Tuesday.

“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 department said in a statement. “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 said that it while might have been scary for her, his daughter learned something at that park.

“She’s learned that our constitutional rights are something worth standing up for,” Mooney said. “She got to witness a violation of civil rights. She got to witness an unlawful order by the police.”

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