Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Gallardo was receiving an award from City Hall after being named “April 2019 Deputy of the Month.” Gallardo had arrested an El Salvador man who was wanted by Interpol and had a warrant for his arrest for committing a murder.
After Gallardo and other officers received their awards, they took a photo with Tamarac, Florida, Mayor Michelle J. Gomez and several city commissioners. After the photo, Commissioner Mike Gelin took the microphone and called out Gallardo for falsely arresting him four years earlier.
The New York Times reported that Gelin told Gallardo: “You probably don’t remember me, but you are the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago.”
“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.”
The moment was caught on camera.
“Ms. Gomez quickly grabbed the microphone and told the deputies that city officials appreciated ‘everything that you do for us,’” the Times reported. “It was the first ceremony the city hosted to recognize outstanding deputies.”
Gelin had been arrested by Gallardo in 2015 after filming an encounter between the police officer and two men fighting in the street. Gallardo, a white officer, told Gelin, a black man, to stop filming. Gelin kept recording, and Gallardo arrested him for resisting without violence, according to the Times.
Gallardo’s report of the arrest said Gelin approached him from behind and was arrested after refusing to leave the scene. Gelin said he was in prison for nine hours before the charges were dropped thanks to the video on his phone.
“I was profoundly affected by my wrongful arrest,” Gelin told the Times. “It was a traumatizing experience and I think about it a lot. I had a flashback at the meeting and thought it was the right thing to do to call out the officer.”
“Wrongful arrests have lifelong impacts on people and happen more than people would want to believe,” he added. “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.”
Mayor Gomez called Gelin’s behavior during the awards ceremony “highly inappropriate.”
“This was neither the time nor the forum to air personal grievances,” she wrote in an email to the Times. “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 outlet reported that Sheriff Gregory Tony told Gelin he would open an internal investigation into the commissioner’s arrest.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association called Gelin “an insult to law enforcement” in a statement to the Times.
“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,” said union president Jeff Bell.
Gelin said he has received some racist messages since news broke of his remarks, but also told the Times that many members of minority communities have been supportive.