Called Out

City commissioner confronts cop at award ceremony: ‘You falsely arrested me and lied on the police report’

A tense moment played out last Wednesday during a City Hall ceremony to commend county deputies for their exemplary work in the city of Tamarac, Florida. In a video posted to the City of Tamarac’s website, deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office were presented with certificates, followed by a group photo. After the photo was taken, city commissioner Mike Gelin grabbed the microphone and asked Deputy Joshua Gallardo to come back to the floor.

“You probably don’t remember me, but you are the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago,” Gelin told Gallardo, who nodded his head uncomfortably.

“You lied on the police report,” Gelin continued. “I believe you are a rogue police officer. You are a bad police officer, and you don’t deserve to be here.”

When Gelin was done speaking, Mayor Michelle J. Gomez quickly grabbed the mic and reassured the deputies that city officials appreciated “everything that you do for us.”

According to The New York Times‘ account of the incident as relayed by Gelin, he was at Starbucks in July of 2015 when he witnessed a fight happening across the street. When he ran over the scene and began recording with his cellphone, there were already several officers at the scene, one of whom was Gallardo. According to Gelin, Gallardo demanded that he stop recording. When Gelin refused, Gallardo arrested him and charged him with “resisting without violence.”

Deputy Gallardo wrote in a police report that he responded to a call of a victim who was bleeding from his ears and skull. Mr. Gelin, who was recording, approached the deputy from behind and was handcuffed when he refused to leave the area, the report said.

Mr. Gelin said he was in jail for nine hours, and prosecutors dropped the charge after seeing the video from his phone.

“Wrongful arrests have lifelong impacts on people and happen more than people would want to believe,” Gelin told the Times. “I need to be a voice for the people who don’t feel like they have a voice or the courage to express their voice.”

In an email to the Times, Mayor Gomez called Gelin’s actions “highly inappropriate.”

“This was neither the time nor the forum to air personal grievances,” she wrote. “This is NOT the way we treat employees or people who work for our city. There are proper channels to follow, but the commissioner chose not to use them.”

The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association also wasn’t too pleased with Gelin’s actions.

“It is outrageous that Commissioner Gelin acted in an official capacity to berate a deputy who was just recognized for apprehending a known gang member wanted for homicide who has previously been deported,” the organization said in a statement.

Featured image via screen grab

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