Florida city commissioner berates deputy during ceremony meant to congratulate him

What was supposed to be a feel-good ceremony turned awkward in a hurry Wednesday morning in South Florida.

During a city commission meeting in Tamarac, Broward County deputy of the month awards for the first half of 2019 were handed out by Mayor Michelle Gomez and city leaders, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

After a group photo that included commissioners and deputies, Commissioner Mike Gelin took the microphone and called Broward County Deputy Joshua Gallardo back to the front of the room, the newspaper reported.

“It’s good to see you again,” Gelin told Gallardo. “You probably don’t remember me, but you’re the police officer who falsely arrested me four years ago.

"You lied on the police report. I believe you're a rogue police officer, and you're a bad police officer, and you don't deserve to be here."

Gallardo nodded, stuck out his hand as if to shake Gelin's hand, and when the commissioner did not offer his, the deputy gave the thumb's up sign and walked away, WFOR reported,

After an awkward silence, Gomez said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate as a whole BSO and everything you do for us."

Gallardo was April's deputy of the month, the Sun-Sentinel reported. He was honored for pulling over a man and discovering he was wanted by Interpol for murder in El Salvador.

Gomez expressed dismay after Wednesday's meeting.

"Completely shocked. This was not something we were expecting," Gomez told WPLG "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."

Commissioner Julie Fishman, who did not mention Gelin by name, wrote on her Facebook page that the confrontation was "a deliberate act for a specific purpose."

"One of the most important ideas of being an elected official is conducting oneself with dignity and in an ethical manner; not using the office you are in for personal gain or personal use," Fishman wrote. "And while I am 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."

The encounter between Gelin and Gallardo occurred July 15, 2015, before Gelin had become an elected official, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Gallardo was at a Salvation Army venue to tend to a man who had been assaulted. As Gallardo was investigating, Gelin arrived and refused to leave, the newspaper reported. According to the arrest report, Gallardo told Gelin he was investigating a crime scene and asked him to move several steps back, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

When Gelin said he was recording the investigation and refused to move, Gallardo arrested him on a charge of resisting arrest/obstruction without violence, the newspaper reported. Prosecutors dropped the case.

"When I shared my video with the state attorney's office to prove that I did nothing wrong, they declined to file charges against me," Gelin told WPLG. "I had a productive conversation with the sheriff yesterday, and I will try to resolve things and move forward."

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony met with Gelin on Wednesday afternoon, WFOR reported.

"The venue and the comments and the way they were presented in a public setting was inappropriate," Tony told WFOR.

Tony said his meeting with Gelin was productive.

“We talked to him about it, about how I was disappointed with his behavior and it was unacceptable,” Tony told the television station. “Surprisingly, the commissioner was very receptive to it and understand he could have (taken) a different approach, and we’re gonna work together to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Representatives from the deputies’ union were upset.

"We are absolutely furious about his statements," Jeff Bell, president of the International Union of Police Associations, told the Sun-Sentinel. "Here is a deputy day in and day out dedicates his life and service" to Tamarac.

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