No sooner had Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joshua Gallardo picked up his deputy of the month award and returned to his seat, than a Florida city commissioner called him back to the front of the room.
“Joshua Gallardo, will you come down for a second?” asked Tamarac City Commissioner Mike Gelin, taking the mic. “It’s good to see you again.”
But Gelin had no intention of heaping further praise on Gallardo, who was being honored for helping arrest an alleged gang member wanted for murder.
“You probably don’t remember me, but you're the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago,” Gelin said, erupting into what ABC News called a tirade. “You lied on the police report. I believe you’re a rogue police officer. You’re a bad police officer, and you don’t deserve to be here.”
Blindsided, city officials stood there, stunned. Gallardo merely stood stoically, then gave a thumbs-up and walked back to his seat.
“Completely shocked. This was not something we were expecting,” Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez told WPLG-TV. “It was supposed to be a wonderful morning. We were giving the awards for the BSO deputies of the month. It was supposed to be a feel-good time.”
Gomez attempted to do damage control, telling Gallardo, “We appreciate as a whole BSO and everything you do for us,” according to WFOR-TV.
“I was embarrassed,” Gomez told the Tampa Bay Times. “We were all shocked. Nobody expected this. It was a nice event to honor our BSO, our deputies.”
Gelin was not yet an elected official when Gallardo arrested him in 2015 for resisting arrest without violence after he ignored the officer’s command to move back as he investigated a beating at a Salvation Army store, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Gelin told Gallardo at the time that he was recording the incident, which involved a person who was battered, and asserted he did not have to move. Gallardo, according to WFOR, differed, and arrested him for allegedly failing to make way in the crime scene.
Gelin told it a bit differently, as The Washington Post reported, recounting to a local blog, Tamarac Talk, that he had tried to intervene in a fight between two homeless men, then was told to back off by Gallardo, among three officers who responded. Gelin said he felt singled out, given that a crowd had gathered at that point, and called his nine hours in jail “traumatizing” and costly, as he got a lawyer and dealt with the court system.
Broward prosecutors dropped the case after finding that there was not enough evidence to convict, the news outlet said.
Spoken to afterward, Gelin was contrite and said he could probably have handled his ire differently, WFOR said.
Police advocates were livid, and the outburst cost him at least one endorsement.
“We are absolutely furious about his statements,” Jeff Bell, president of the International Union of Police Associations, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Here is a deputy day in and day out dedicates his life and service” to Tamarac.
“As a public official, Commissioner Gelin’s behavior towards a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is unacceptable,” Broward County Broward County Police Benevolent Association President Rod Skirvin told the newspaper, adding that the PBA was withdrawing its endorsement from last winter’s election.