Florida City Commissioner Confronts Deputy During Awards Ceremony
|thenorthstar||Oct 1, 2019|
A city commissioner in Florida confronted a deputy police officer during an awards ceremony and accused him of falsely arresting him in 2015.
reported. During the meeting, city officials were presenting members of the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO) with the Deputy of the Month award. E. Mike Gelin, one of the Tamarac city commissioners, then grabbed the microphone and asked Deputy Joshua Gallardo to return to the floor after the deputies had posed for photos with the city officials.
"I want to congratulate all the BSO officers who've done such a great job," Gelin said in a video obtained by WTVJ. "Joshua Gallardo, can you come down for a second?"
When Gallardo returned to the floor to meet with Gelin, the commissioner labeled him a “bad police officer,” referencing an incident four years ago when Gallardo had arrested him under false pretenses.
"It's good to see you again. You probably don't remember me. But you're the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago," Gelin told Gallardo. "You lied on the police report. I believe you are a rogue police officer, you're a bad police officer, and you don't deserve to be here."
In the video obtained by the news station, Gallardo walked away after giving Gelin a thumbs up. Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez responded by taking the microphone and then thanking the sheriff’s office.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate as a whole, BSO and everything you do for us," Gomez said. "Thank you for your service to our community, we appreciate you. Please take that away from here today. Thank you very much, be safe out there."
Broward County Court records obtained by WTVJ stated that Gelin was arrested in July 2015 for resisting or obstructing without violence. Gallardo was listed as the arresting officer. The records do not state why the charge was dropped. During the incident, Gelin, who was not commissioner at the time, was arrested while using his cellphone to record the police response to a battery incident, the
Miami Herald reported.
In a statement posted to Facebook on September 30, Gelin wrote he had a “negative and traumatizing encounter” with Gallardo back in 2015. At the time of his arrest, Gelin said he witnessed two homeless men fighting before he and another person decided to intervene and break up the fight. One of the men fell to the ground after he was hit in the head with a bottle and Gelin said he took out a cellphone to record the incident “that if he died at least his family could see that he was cared for in his last moments.”
The two officers who arrived on scene at the time of the incident saw Gelin with his cellphone out and did not say anything to him. When Gallardo arrived on the scene and saw Gelin recording the incident, he inquired about the recording and instructed him to step back to the nearby hedges. As he moved toward the hedges, Gallardo asked Gelin why he was following him and not complying with an officer’s orders, even though Gelin was moving further from the scene.
“I then asked why he wasn’t asking everyone else to move back and he arrested me. I never interfered with him and I never followed him. I was publicly humiliated, handcuffed, placed in the police car, fingerprinted, booked, and placed in jail. As a result, I have a mugshot all over the internet, as if I am a criminal,” Gelin said in his statement.
The State declined to file charges against Gelin after his lawyer shared the video and presented evidence that refuted statements in Gallardo’s police report. Broward County prosecutors dropped the case after viewing Gelin’s video, stating “it has been determined a strong likelihood of conviction is not present as images in the video do not support conviction. A closeout memo from prosecutors said the comments the police report alleged that Gelin made “were not observed to have been made by either party.”
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through or worse. Many untrue, ugly and negative statements have been made about me and even my 5-year-old son on social media, but I am grateful to those who have offered support and even the people, from all over the country, who have challenged what I did but were open to healthy dialog and listened to my point of view,” Gelin wrote.
Gelin’s comments were criticized after the event. On September 26, the Broward County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) announced in a
on Facebook that it was withdrawing its endorsement of Gelin, who was endorsed by the organization last year.
"As a public official, Commissioner Gelin's behavior towards a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy is unacceptable," Broward County PBA President Rod Skirvin said in a statement. "The Broward County PBA will not endorse any elected official who treats law enforcement officers with a complete lack of respect and common courtesy the way Commissioner Gelin did in his official duties representing the city of Tamarac."
Sheriff Gregory Tony told
WFOR-TV that Gelin’s “comments and the way they were presented in a public setting was inappropriate,” but said the two met on September 26 and had a productive meeting.
“We talked to him about it, about how I was disappointed with his behavior and it was unacceptable,” Tony told the news station. “Surprisingly, the commissioner was very receptive to it and [understands] he could have took a different approach and we’re gonna work together to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star.She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange , City Limits , and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.