Cops Arrest a Man Playing Tee-Ball With His Wife and 6-Year-Old Over Social Distancing. Now the City's Singing a Different Tune

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File

FILE – In this March 28, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles police officers patrol a sparsely populated Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. At least three police officers in California have died so far from COVID-19 and officers have been urged to wear masks when they are interacting with the public. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)




In case you missed it: In Colorado, a father was put in cuffs and taken away in front of his 6-year-old daughter for violating social distancing rules.

As per a statement by the City of Brighton, Brighton Police responded to a 4:30 p.m. call Tuesday claiming a group of 12 to 15 people were playing softball at Donelson Park.

From the statement:

Although the officers asked them to disperse due to the park being closed, which was incorrect, disbursement was needed due to the state’s public health order regarding group gathering.

Park signs declared the park closed, but they also announced that “in groups of no more than 4 persons, parks remain open for walking, hiking, biking, running and similar activities.”

Fox reports that Matt Mooney was playing tee-ball with his wife and their little girl — that would be, a group of three — when a trio of cops approached.

The officers purportedly demanded to see Matt’s ID, and he refused — he didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong.

His daughter was frightened.

The 33-year-old recounted to Denver’s Fox31:

“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 Council Kirby Walin happened to be present, and he videoed the ordeal.

Kirby can be heard narrating:

“He’s being taken by the Brighton police for playing [ball] with his daughter in an empty park.”

Matt claims the po-po violated social distancing guidelines themselves by not being properly attired:

“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 also thought it was just poor form:

“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.”

Fortunately, Matt wasn’t taken to jail. But he does claim have spent 10 minutes in the back of a patrol car.

And now, the city says it’s sorry.

Acting City Manager Marv Falconburg apologized to Matt in a phone call the day after the ordeal.

More from Channel 31:

The police department is currently conducting an internal investigation into what led to Mooney’s arrest but the city said “We are deeply sorry for the events that took place on Sunday and the impact on Mr. Mooney, his family, and the community.”

“As officers are required to interpret several layers of state public health orders and local closures as they change, there may have been a misunderstanding about the park closure,” 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.”


Matt was offered the opportunity for an in-person mea culpa from City Manager Mar and Brighton Police Commander Frank Acosta.

He declined.

I don’t think it’s out of line to say this is totally ridiculous. But it’s not an isolated incident of absurdity amid the country’s state of lockdown.

For more on that, see these articles:

Nobody Likes a Rat: New York Tells Residents to Report People to Authorities If They’re Too Close to One Another

A Town in New Jersey Will Now Be Nagging Social Distance Violators From the Sky

Meanwhile, we have a reporter goofily asking Trump why he doesn’t shut down all grocery stores.

But not everyone’s trying to lock it down; on Monday, I covered a speech by the governor of South Dakota — to be sure, a sparsely populated state.

She’s taking a very different approach:

“My role with respect to public safety is something I take very seriously. The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety. They are the ones that are entrusted with expansive freedoms – they’re free to exercise their rights to work, to worship, and to play – or to even stay at home, or to conduct social distancing. … My responsibility is to respect the rights of people, and the people who elected me.”


In these cracking-down times, that sounds especially good.



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