A Florida city commissioner confronted a deputy during an awards ceremony honoring members of the Broward County Sheriff's Office, claiming the honoree was a "bad police officer" who falsely arrested him four years earlier.
The encounter happened Wednesday at a Tamarac City Commission Meeting. After Deputy Joshua Gallardo and others were honored with the Deputy of the Month award, Commissioner E. Mike Gelin grabbed the microphone and called Gallardo back to the floor.
"I want to congratulate all the BSO officers who've done such a great job," Gelin said after the deputies posed for a photo with their awards. "Joshua Gallardo, can you come down for a second?"
Gallardo made his way back to the front, where he was confronted by Gelin.
"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. You lied on the police report," Gelin said. "I believe you're a rogue police officer, you're a bad police officer and you don't deserve to be here."
Gallardo gave Gelin a thumbs-up sign and walked off. Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez then takes the microphone and thanks 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 showed Gelin was arrested in July 2015 for resisting or obstructing without violence, but the charge was later dropped and records don't show why. The booking report lists Gallardo as the arresting officer. According to the Miami Herald, Gelin was arrested for using his cellphone to record police actions as they responded to a battery incident. Gelin was not a city commissioner at the time.
As a result of the confrontation, the Broward County Police Benevolent Association announced Thursday that it was withdrawing its endorsement of Gelin, who received the endorsement 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."
Fellow Tamarac Commissioner Julie Fishman also criticized Gelin, saying it wasn't the right time or place for the confrontation.
"While I am a strong proponent of freedom of speech and did not give that up when I was elected, I am also a proponent of the right time and the right place," Fishman said in a Facebook post. "Our Commission recognition of the 'Officers of the Month' was neither."
In a statement Saturday on Facebook, Gelin thanked his supporters, writing: "Wrongful arrests can have life long and career altering consequences. It is important that justice applies to everyone."
Gallardo was being honored as the Deputy of the Month for April 2019, after a traffic stop led to the arrest of a man wanted for murder by Interpol. Officials said the suspect fought with Gallardo, but the deputy was able to take him into custody.