A Broward College professor is at the heart of a new police controversy after he filed a criminal complaint against an off-duty captain who he alleged pulled a gun on him during a neighborhood dispute over dog poop.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office detectives are investigating the Oct. 7 incident, in which Boynton Beach Police Capt. Matthew Zeller, 33, allegedly drew his weapon on Broward College math guru Dr. Sanford Geraci at the upper-middle-class Canyons gated community in unincorporated Palm Beach County.
The sheriff’s office’s main evidence is a surveillance video of the incident obtained from Geraci’s security equipment.
Boynton Beach PD spokeswoman Stephanie Slater confirmed the existence of an investigation and said an Internal Affairs case is on hold until PBSO decides what to do with Geraci’s complaint.
Zeller, meanwhile, remains on duty as head of budget and procurement.
“This guy [Zeller] has been acting like he is a cop in our neighborhood even off-duty,” Geraci said of the Oct. 7 incident. “And he’s not even in his jurisdiction since we are in unincorporated. But this time, he went too far.”
When asked if Zeller pulled his gun, Geraci said: “I don’t know what he pulled out. The investigation will have to determine that.”
Geraci declined further comment and referred follow-up calls to Plantation attorney Chuck Eiss, a former Broward County prosecutor. Eiss declined comment.
Eiss also declined to make the tape of the incident available, citing the ongoing investigation.
Zeller’s attorney, Elizabeth Parker, gave the following statement:
“Captain Zeller operated in accordance with the laws in the State of Florida as a police officer authorized to carry a weapon both on and off-duty. Mr. Geraci made numerous threats to shoot not only Captain Zeller but other neighbors, aggressively and violently yelling he was going to get his weapon while reaching into his waistband and pocket. Captain Zeller acted calmly and lawfully in responding to Mr. Geraci’s dangerous and outrageous behavior. Several neighbors captured the incident on video.”
A law enforcement source said the incident was sparked by Geraci’s dog pooping on a lawn near Zeller’s house.
Things escalated until Zeller allegedly drew on Geraci.
Zeller was promoted to captain from sergeant last year in a major reorganization. He is in charge of the agency’s $28 million budget.