A Black Florida commissioner released cellphone footage of the encounter that prompted him to interrupt an awards ceremony honoring a white deputy to bring to light the deputy arresting him under false pretenses.
“Like so many others who have reached out to me, I was wrongfully arrested,” Tamarac City Commissioner Mike Gelin said of the arrest.
The incident predated his time in office.
Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Joshua Gallardo arrested Gelin July 18, 2015, on a charge of resisting or obstructing without violence, according to court records records obtained by NBC Miami.
Broward prosecutors, who dropped the case after viewing Gelin’s cellphone footage, said in a closeout memo that comments Gelin was said in the police report to have made “were not observed to have been made by either party,” CBS4 Miami reported.
The footage instead depicts a white man injured on the ground bleeding with two Black men assisting him and two deputies on the scene.
Gelin, who was recording, wasn’t shown in the footage, but at some point he attracted the attention of a deputy he identified as Gallardo in a news release.
“Are you recording right now?” Gallardo asked.
“Yeah,” Gelin replied.
“Turn it off,” the deputy said.
“Why?” Gelin asked.
“It’s a violation of HIPAA law. He’s actually injured,” the deputy explained. “Please leave.”
Gelin continued recording and questioning Gallardo.
“I’m watching,” Gelin said. “I want to make sure he’s getting taken care of.”
Gelin said in a recent news release that the incident started when a fight broke out between two homeless men and Gelin helped break up the fight.
“Before we could get there, one man was hit in the head with a bottle and he fell to the ground bleeding,” Gelin said in the release. “One man was trying to stop the bleeding and already helping.
“I took out my phone to record, thinking that if he died at least his family could see that he was cared for in his last moments.”
When two deputies on the scene arrived, they explained why they could not render aid and told people yelling for them to call an ambulance that one had already been called, according to Gelin’s news release.
He said both deputies saw him recording and did not say anything to him. Gallardo was the third deputy to arrive, Gelin said.
His footage showed how his conversation with Gallardo escalated.
“What’s the rule? Is there a rule about that?” Gelin asked.
“We don’t want you right here if I’m attending him,” Gallardo said.
“OK. You’re not attending him,” Gelin said. “What are you doing?”
“Sir, right now I’m gonna ask you again. On the other side of that hedge,” Gallardo said.
“Why? Why do I have to go to the other side?” Gelin asked.
Soon after, Gallardo told Gelin:
“You’re gonna get arrested for obstruction.”
Gelin asked how he was obstructing.
“‘Cause I’m asking you to go to the other side,” the deputy said. “I don’t want you approaching me.”
“I’m not approaching you,” Gelin said. “You approached me.”
It appeared that Gelin was stepping backward with his cellphone when he asked, “What about everybody else?”
At the time, at least one other bystander was standing near the victim.
Gelin said after the encounter that he never interfered with the police investigation or followed Gallardo.
“I was publicly humiliated, handcuffed, placed in the police car, fingerprinted, booked, and placed in jail,” Gelin said in the news release. “As a result, I have a mugshot all over the internet, as if I am a criminal.”
Gelin said despite filing a formal complaint with internal affairs, speaking to the county sheriff and other local officials, “nothing happened to the officer.”
When the commissioner noticed the deputy was being celebrated, Gelin addressed him directly Sept. 25.
“You probably don’t remember me,” the commissioner said. “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.”
Gelin said after the recent commission meeting the deputy offered to work with him to bring about positive change, and the commissioner agreed.
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through or worse,” Gelin said.