Last month, a South Florida politician publicly called out a deputy who arrested him four years ago.
Deputy Joshua Gallardo was being honored at Tamarac City Hall for taking a killer off the street. Just after the ceremonial moment, Tamarac Commissioner Mike Gelin summoned the deputy back up to the front of the room. Then he called Gallardo a “bad police officer.”
The public dressing down shocked Gelin’s commission colleagues. They even talked about punishing Gelin for his remarks.
That won’t happen. Tamarac city commissioners decided this week not to censure Gelin.
The decision came after Gelin addressed the crowd and more than 30 people spoke at Monday night’s commission meeting.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Tamarac was thrust into the national spotlight, Gelin clarified why he criticized the Broward sheriff’s deputy.
“I have to explain a mugshot for the rest of my life as if I am a criminal and I am not,” Gelin said, emphasizing that he’s still haunted by the experience.
Gelin, who spoke for nearly 15 minutes, said that he tried going through the proper channels after being wrongfully arrested in 2015. Yet nothing came of his complaint with internal affairs, and lawyers were too expensive. That left him with one choice.
“Because I spoke out and shared what had happened to me, I received messages of hate, threats, my family’s safety has been compromised,” he said.
Miami Herald news partner CBS4 obtained the video that led to Gelin’s arrest. On the video, Gelin is recording a crime scene when BSO deputies begin telling the soon-to-be commissioner to stop and back up. Gelin initially doesn’t comply but eventually relents as the deputy advances toward him.
Deputies arrested Gelin for resisting an officer without violence. In the arrest report, Gallardo wrote that he repeatedly told Gelin to “not continue to approach me from behind” and that he “advised him he could continue to record,” both of which directly conflict with the video. Prosecutors chose not to pursue the case.
So, on Sept, 26, as Gallardo was being honored as a deputy of the month, Gelin spoke up.
“You probably don’t remember me but you’re the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago,” Gelin told Gallardo. “You lied on a police report. I believe you’re a rogue police officer, you’re a bad police officer and you don’t deserve to be here.”
Despite Tamarac’s decision not to reprimand Gelin, BSO’s largest union said the point was made.
“We made our point known and stood up for one of our members like we should have,” said union president Jeff Bell.
Several people at Monday’s meeting disagreed with Gelin’s decision to use a public forum to address a private matter.
“There is a difference between legitimate criticism of a deputy and using the platform of the City Commission to embarrass, humiliate and berate that deputy,” said Neal Glassman, a retired BSO captain of the Tamarac district. Glassman also said Gallardo has since transferred out of Tamarac.
Others saw Gelin as a voice for the countless individuals who’ve been affected by police misconduct yet chose to remain silent out of fear.
“We are not anti-police,” said Marsha Ellison, president of the Broward County Branch of NAACP. “We are anti-police misconduct. We are anti-bad police who don’t do the right thing.”
“There is no wrong time or wrong place for the truth and justice,” said Dexter Bridgman, of Hollywood. “It took a lot of courage for Commissioner Gelin to do what he did.”
Gelin hopes his saga will lead to better policing in Tamarac and beyond. After being contacted by numerous police departments, community leaders and policy experts, Gelin said he want to create an outlet that can address the problem of law enforcement misconduct.
“The city of Tamarac has been presented with a tremendous opportunity to show the nation and the world how to get it right,” he said.
Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.