On Sunday, April 5th, 2020, at 4:30pm, 33-year-old Matt Mooney from Brighton, Colorado walked from his home to a nearly empty park to play softball with his wife and daughter.
Within a short amount of time, a group of three Brighton police officers approached Matt and his family and told them that the park was closed and they needed to leave.
Matt is formerly a Colorado State Patrol trooper and told the officers that he was aware of the town’s rules and was in full compliance with the social distancing order. In fact, there was a sign at the park that proved he was right.
“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.
Matt tells the officers that he’s not leaving and they can issue him a citation if that’s what they have to do. The Brighton police officers then told Matt to show them his identification in which he refused because he wasn’t breaking any laws. According to Matt, the police officers didn’t like his response.
He said that’s when they proceeded to make a threat against him. They told him if he didn’t show them his identification they were going to handcuff him in front of his 6-year-old daughter. Matt again explained that he was properly abiding by the social distancing rules and not breaking the law, so he declined to show them his identification.
At that point, the officers were in his face with no masks and touching all over him with no gloves. They handcuffed Matt and put him in the back of their cruiser. He sat there for 10 to 15 minutes while they called to speak with their supervisor. Kirby Wallin, a former Brighton City Councilman was filming the whole incident from a distance.
Moments later the officers opened the door to the police cruiser, unhandcuffed Matt and told him he was free to go. They didn’t issue him a citation nor did they apologize for overreaching the law. Since then Matt’s story has been broadcasted on multiple news outlets and all he wants is a public apology.
The Brighton Police Department issued a public statement saying they were “deeply sorry for the events that took place on Sunday and the impact on Mr. Mooney, his family, and the community.”
As the coronavirus lockdowns are taking place in Colorado the department says the officers are undergoing mandatory training on the new laws being put into place and there was a misunderstanding on the park closures.