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Colorado man handcuffed for playing T-ball with daughter in empty park

Sporting News logo Sporting News 4/7/2020 Dan Bernstein

a man standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Sporting News A man in Brighton, Colo., is demanding an apology from the city's police department for handcuffing him in front of his daughter before briefly detaining him in a patrol car on Sunday. The reason, per Denver TV station KDVR: He was playing T-ball in an empty park. 

Matt Mooney said a group of officers approached him, asked for his identification and said he was violating state social distancing guidelines. There are no laws in Colorado banning people from going to parks, however; the park Mooney visited has a sign specifically allowing gatherings of fewer than five people. Mooney's 6-year-old daughter and wife were with him.

Former city councilman Kirby Wallin happened to be in the area as police handcuffed Mooney, and filmed the event with his phone.

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“(My daughter) was like, ‘Daddy, I don't want you to get arrested,'" Mooney told KDVR. "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."

Brighton police have said an investigation into its treatment of Mooney is underway.

"The Brighton Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into a situation that occurred late this afternoon at Donelson Park," the department wrote in a Sunday statement on Facebook. "This is an active investigation and we are unable to provide additional information until the investigation is complete."

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Brighton officials did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Sporting News on the manner in which police are instructed to enforce social distancing guidelines, or whether there were previously unreported rules for local parks about which residents had not been told.

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