Things got awkward at an awards ceremony honoring members of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office this week when a South Florida city commissioner confronted a deputy who he claimed falsely arrested him four years earlier.
The confrontation unfolded Wednesday as BSO Deputy Joshua Gallardo and others received the Deputy of the Month award, NBC Miami reported. That’s when Tamarac City Commissioner Mike Gelin grabbed the mic and called Gallardo back down to the floor.
“I want to congratulate all the BSO officers who’ve done such a great job,” he began after Gallardo and the other officers had received their honors. What happened next was nothing short of cringeworthy.
“It’s good to see you again,” Gelin added, this time addressing the deputy directly. “You probably don’t remember me. But you’re the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago. You lied on your police report. I believe you are a rogue police officer, you’re a bad police officer and you don’t deserve to be here.”
Gallardo flashed the thumbs-up sign before walking away. Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez quickly retrieved the microphone and thanked the sheriff’s office.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate as a whole, BSO and everything you do for us,” Gomez told the stunned honorees. “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.”
The entire incident was captured on video, drawing criticism from city leaders who slammed the commissioner for his “unacceptable” behavior.
Court records obtained by NBC Miami show Gelin was arrested in 2015 on a charge of resisting or obstructing without violence. Gelin wasn’t a city commissioner at the time and the charges were ultimately dropped. He had allegedly tried filming police as they responded to a battery incident, according to the Miami Herald.
In a probable cause affidavit, Gallardo wrote that he instructed Gelin to “move back” from the crime scene, to which the man responded that “he was recording the incident and that he didn’t have to move.” Gelin reportedly refused to comply with the officer’s demands and was carted off to jail.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, the commissioner said he decided to speak up in that moment because the arrest had “profoundly affected” him.
“It was a traumatizing experience that was played out many times in my head,” he told the outlet. “I had a flashback and so I spoke up.”
Both Gomez and the Broward County Police Benevolent Association have chided Gelin for confronting Gallardo at Wednesday’s ceremony. As a result, the police organization said it would no longer endorse the commissioner.
“As a public official, Commissioner Gelin’s behavior toward a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is unacceptable,” PBA president Rod Skirvin said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Gelin’s rebuke also drew a response from fellow Tamarac Commissioner Julie Fishman, who said the situation should’ve been handled privately.
In a Facebook post, she wrote: “While I’m 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. Our Commission recognition of the ‘Officers of the Month’ was neither.”
Gomez agreed, and criticized Gelin for not using the “proper channels” to air out his grievances with the deputy. The mayor said she’s spoken with the city attorney about how to handle the incident and thanked Gallardo for professionalism.
On Saturday, Gelin took to Facebook to thank his supporters and issue a formal statement on the matter.
“Wrongful arrests can have life long and career altering consequences,” the commissioner wrote. “It is important that justice applies to everyone.”
Watch more in the video below.