Tamarac, FL – The Tamarac City Commission said it will not reprimand the city commissioner who publicly accosted a Broward sheriff’s deputy during an awards ceremony in September.
During a commission meeting on Monday night, city leaders decided they would do nothing to hold Commissioner Mike Gelin accountable for the comments he made to Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Gallardo, WPLG reported.
“There is no motion for censure, and we thank you very much for this conversation," Tamarac Mayor Michelle Gomez declared, following a nearly three-hour debate about the issue, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
On Sept. 25, Deputy Gallardo was the recipient of a Deputy of the Month award during the Tamarac city commission meeting for his role in apprehending an illegal alien with an international murder warrant out of El Salvador, WFOR reported.
He and other deputies shook hands with city leaders and posed for photographs before Gelin suddenly grabbed the microphone and called Deputy Gallardo back to the front of the room, Tamarac Talk reported.
The interaction was captured by a camera inside Tamarac City Hall.
“It’s good to see you again,” Gelin told the unsuspecting deputy as he approached. “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,” the commissioner declared. “I believe you’re a rogue police officer. You’re a bad police officer, and you don’t deserve to be here.”
Deputy Gallardo flashed the commissioner a thumbs-up, then wordlessly walked away, the video showed.
The commissioners stood idly by as Gelin handed the microphone off to Gomez, who made an unsuccessful attempt to smooth things over.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate, as a whole, the [sheriff’s office] and everything that you do for us,” Gomez said. “Thank you for your service to our community. We appreciate you. Please take that away from here today.”
Her comments were met with weak, scattered applause, after which Gelin abruptly walked away.
He didn’t return for the rest of the meeting, Tamarac Talk reported.
Later that day, Gelin attempted to comment at the end of a public budget hearing, but his colleagues refused to acknowledge him, according to the paper.
Commissioner Julie Fishman later blasted Gelin on Facebook for stripping the moment of appreciation and praise away from Deputy Gallardo, Tamarac Talk reported.
“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 said.
Gomez later said she was “completely shocked” by Gelin’s verbal attack on Deputy Gallardo, WPLG reported.
“This was not something we were expecting," the mayor said. "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 initially said that she was looking into the city’s civility code to determine whether or not Gelin’s comments were a violation, WFOR reported.
If it was determined that they were, the commissioner could have faced censure, suspension, or potential removal from office by the governor.
During Monday’s commission meeting, Gomez maintained that Gelin should have addressed his issue with Deputy Gallardo at another time, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
She also expressed disappointment that Gelin’s comments became national news.
“Our police deserve much better,” she said.
But Gelin offered no apologies for his conduct and argued that he was the one who was victimized.
“I am not alone,” he said, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Police misconduct affects our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our family.”
He also complained that he has “received messages of hate,” since he publicly lambasted the deputy, and alleged that his family’s safety has been “compromised,” according to WFOR.
During a prior interview, Gelin said he had “no regrets” about calling Deputy Gallardo a “rogue officer,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“The way I look at it, I know someone who falsely arrested me and mistreated me and I only wonder how many other people he has done this to,” he told the paper.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Broward leader Marsha Ellison defended Gelin and said his comments were “a matter of public safety,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“It would appear there is no right time to call out police misconduct,” Ellison complained. “We are not anti-police. We are anti-police misconduct. We are anti-bad police who don’t do the right thing.”
More than two dozen people provided comments during the commission meeting on Monday, WFOR reported.
One black resident warned the commission that the community would “get seriously vocal” in the event Gelin was censored.
“Thank you, Mike, for your courage,” the same resident added.