A Colorado man has received an apology from his city’s leadership after he was handcuffed and detained by police in front of his 6-year-old daughter for playing tee-ball in an empty park.
According to KDVR, a father named Matt Mooney was confronted Sunday by three police officers in Brighton, about 25 miles north of Denver, for apparently violating the state’s social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Former Brighton City Councilman Kirby Wallin witnessed the incident and recorded it.
“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 told KDVR.
Brighton police informed Mooney he was in a violation of the state’s lockdown orders. However, KDVR noted a sign at the park stated it was closed, but that groups of four people or less could still enjoy its amenities.
Mooney, his daughter and his wife were a party of three, so there shouldn’t have been an issue, as far as I can tell.
“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,” Mooney told KDVR.
The father was detained in the back of a patrol car for around 10 minutes before being released.
Mooney did admit he was defiant when he was asked to provide his identification to the officers, as he felt he wasn’t doing anything wrong by playing tee-ball with his family at the park.
He also complained that the officers in the encounter were not following the very guidelines they were attempting to enforce.
“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 told KDVR.
If public health experts are to be believed, the answer to stopping the spread of the coronavirus is to stay away from others, which Mooney and his family were doing until the police showed up.
Mooney demanded an apology over the encounter, which he received.
The dad was phoned by Brighton acting City Manager Marv Falconburg on Tuesday.
The City of Brighton also issued a statement on the matter.
“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 city stated, according to KCNC.
In an interview with The Western Journal on Tuesday, Cmdr. Al Sharon of the Brighton Police Department said the incident was under investigation — to avoid such mistakes in the future.
“We recognize there was an error and we are doing a thorough investigation,” he said. “I would say, at this point in time, I think they wouldn’t do it again the same way — and when the investigation is complete we’ll be sure of that.”
The city offered to have its chief of police have an in-person meeting with Mooney, but the father declined to press the issue any further.
At least the story had somewhat of an amicable ending.
Still, we should pay close attention to such examples of aggressive overreach by government — at every level.
Most Americans are doing their best to abide by what are ultimately social distancing suggestions.
It could be argued these lockdown orders are in violation rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
Obviously, there was no imminent threat posed by the tee-ball playing trio.
That being said, police officers are human beings, just like the rest of us. They do make mistakes. But, these officers could have exercised much better judgment, and, hopefully, they will in the future.
If nothing else, Mooney’s experience in Colorado could be used as a case study into what can happen when citizens surrender our civil liberties in exchange for a sense of security.
In a Facbook post, Mooney wrote that was his point.
“To everyone that says I would have just listened and moved on, that is the whole point of this,” Mooney wrote. “The government is stripping us of our rights because people just roll over go along with what they say. Sometimes you have to stand up and make a stand regardless of the costs.
“To those that say I’m the one that subjected my daughter to the traumatizing event of me being arrested. Yes, you are partially right, I could have backed down and just complied to spare her that but this is also a teachable moment. We can teach our kids that the government is always right and tyrannical or we can teach them that yes YOU can stand up for what is right.”
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
I’m not so sure that quote applies to our situation quite yet, but allowing restrictions on individual liberty for a prolonged period of time is a slippery slope.
Hopefully, now that the country has paid an enormous toll for a trial of authoritarianism — no matter how necessary it might be for the benefit of public health — we’ll see more citizens participating in elections and voting to protect their God-given rights.
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