By: Saraana Jamraj
Tamarac City Commissioner Mike Gelin has been at the center of a controversy regarding the confrontation with Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joshua Gallardo at a city commission meeting.
At the heart of that confrontation was the accusation that Gelin publicly made that Deputy Joshua Gallardo was a rogue police officer who wrongfully arrested Gelin and lied on the police report.
Gelin has spoken openly about the arrest and the events surrounding it and provided several documents, including the police report and his formal complaint. However, the state attorney declined the case after viewing his cellphone video of the event and his written formal complaint.
Initially, Gelin did not release the video, in the hope that the healing process could begin. But, in light of other outlets sharing his story, he has released the video to Tamarac Talk.
The video aligns with his claims that the deputy lied.
Gelin states the video verifies his statement and illustrates both the arrest report and the Internal Affairs incident review omits facts and contains demonstrable lies.
At the beginning of the four-minute video, Gelin recorded the scene as described: a white male was on the ground after being hit with a bottle by another man, two black males were attending to him, and two officers, who arrived on the scene before Deputy Gallardo were waiting for paramedics.
At 43 seconds into the video, the deputy arrived on the scene and walked in the direction of Gelin and others, who were standing there several minutes prior. Deputy Gallardo then stood with the other officers, facing away from Gelin.
Several more minutes passed without incident, with Gelin standing back and occasionally zooming in for a tighter shot, and at one point, moving slightly closer. However, this moment passes without any confrontation.
At three minutes into the video, Deputy Gallardo turned toward Gelin, while Gelin was stepping backward, and asked if he was recording.
Deputy Gallardo then began the confrontation with Gelin, despite claiming it began when Gelin approached him from behind. Gelin was stepping backward in the several seconds leading up to Gallardo’s confrontation of him.
At three minutes into the video, he turned toward Gelin, while Gelin was stepping backward, and asked if he was recording.
Deputy Gallardo then began the confrontation with Gelin, despite claiming it began when Gelin approached him from behind.
Gelin responded that he was recording. The deputy then tells him he cannot because it is a violation of HIPAA law, however, recording in public, even if it’s of an injured person, is not a violation of HIPAA. Deputy Gallardo does not include his statement about a HIPAA violation in his report.
Deputy Gallardo writes: “I advised him that he could continue to record but would have to move back behind the bushes.”
The video says otherwise. Deputy Gallardo did not tell Gelin that he could keep recording. Instead, he invoked the HIPAA violation three times.
Deputy Gallardo then became increasingly frustrated. When Gelin asked if there was a rule against recording, he repeatedly claimed there was.
“We don’t want you right here if I’m attending here,” said Deputy Gallardo.
They went back and forth, with Gelin asking for a reason, and Deputy Gallardo repeating that he wanted him on the other side of the hedges.
The deputy did not ask anyone else to leave.
Less than 30 seconds after first speaking to Gelin, he said, “You’re going to get arrested for obstruction.” Gelin asks why, and the deputy said, “Cause I’m asking you to go to the other side, and I don’t want you approaching me.”
In the report, Deputy Gallardo stated that he told him that he needed to move back to make room for a rescue vehicle. The video shows that he did not provide that reason.
“I’m not approaching you, you approached me,” said Gelin.
“Other side of the hedge!” yelled the officer.
Gelin took several steps back towards the hedge.
While Gelin was backing away, he asked the deputy, “What about everybody else?”
He continued to step back. The deputy, who was standing watching Gelin back away, walked toward Gelin, and said, “Dude, you’re walking away…(inaudible).”
He verbally acknowledged that Gelin was stepping back, which the video confirmed, but on the report, he omitted this.
The deputy then continued to follow Gelin, who had been walking away, and arrested him, despite Gelin following his commands, lawfully recording in a public place, and standing away from law enforcement.
Gelin expressed his hopes that the video and incident will finally clear up the lies that have been spread since the incident.
“The video clearly demonstrates that I complied with the officer’s request, and he only had a problem with me when he noticed that I was recording the victim. He asked me to leave, and I left. And he arrested me anyway. It’s a violation of my constitutional rights,” said Gelin.
For people who asked why he was recording, he said that he saw the man get hit in the head with a bottle, and knew that it could be a deadly injury. He wanted to film that he was being cared for, so that, even if those were his last moments, people would know this.
Without the video, it would have been his word against the word of a deputy and was able to avoid having any charges filed against him.
“The recording saved me,” said Gelin.
While he repeatedly questioned the officer, Gelin maintained he was not in violation of the law, and the prosecutor’s actions confirmed that.
“I asked him questions, but I obeyed his commands, and I left,” said Gelin.
Since the incident, while there has been much criticism, Gelin said that the best thing to come out of this has been the engagement with Tamarac residents and American citizens across the country, who have shared their wrongful arrests with him.
“It wasn’t a planned incident, but I think the fact that it was done in public opens the door for a conversation about cracks in the justice system that need to be fixed — I didn’t commit a crime,” said Gelin.
He has been responding to emails, taking phone calls, and speaking with people on both sides. At least four emails, he said, began with people criticizing him and ending with them apologizing after he engaged and had an open dialogue with them.
To those who think a wrongful arrest should not have been discussed at an awards ceremony honoring police, Gelin agreed with many of his supporters who say that speaking out against injustice should not take a back seat to politeness and decorum.
“Justice should always be a priority,” he said.
Moving forward, he hopes the dialogue will continue to be productive, that healing can begin, and that he can be part of developing constructive ideas and policies to bring the community together.
Incident review submitted by Mike Gelin