The Brighton Police Department has also issued a statement regarding the incident.
Brighton, Colorado's Acting City Manager Marv Falconberg has reached out to resident Matt Mooney via phone and apologized for the police confrontation and subsequent arrest in a local park on Sunday, April 5.
Mooney was playing tee-ball with his wife and daughter in an open space backing up to Donelson Park on Sunday afternoon when he was approached by three Brighton police officers. They told him that the park was closed and that he and his family were violating social distancing guidelines.
The officers asked to see identification, but Mooney, 33, refused, as he was confident he was doing nothing wrong and was staying within the bounds of the law. Mooney was then arrested in front of his wife and 6-year-old daughter and placed in the back of a patrol car for about 10 minutes before being released. Believing that the incident was an infringement upon his constitutional rights, he spoke with the media to bring attention to the situation.
The Brighton Police Department issued the following statement regarding the incident on April 7:
Today, Acting City Manager Marv Falconburg reached out to Brighton resident Matt Mooney by telephone in an effort to arrange a meeting in person with Falconburg and Brighton Police Commander Frank Acosta to offer an apology by Brighton Police Department in person. Falconburg conveyed an apology, however, Mr. Mooney has declined the offer for an in person meeting.
On Sunday, at about 4:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to respond to a complaint from a concerned citizen about a large group of people gathering at Donelson Park. Upon arrival, officers encountered a group of about 12-15 people who appeared to be playing softball. 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.
The Brighton Police Department is currently conducting an internal investigation into what led to officers detaining Mr. Mooney while responding to the complaint. 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.
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. 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.
This is an opportunity for us to come together and do better for the community. We are deeply sorry for the events that took place on Sunday and the impact on Mr. Mooney, his family, and the community.
Mooney declined the opportunity to meet with Falconberg and the chief of police in person.