The following affidavit by Rochelle Gelpin tells of her arrest without probable cause and her being charged with disorderly conduct by Chattanooga police officer Jeff Rahn. She has filed an internal affairs complaint about the seizure.
Affidavit of Rochelle Gelpin describing my arrest
I, Rochelle Gelpin of 1664 Greendale Way, Apartment No. 202, Hixson, Tenn. 37343, do hereby affirm and solemnly swear that the following account of my arrest by Chattanooga police officer Jeff Rahn on May 29, 2016, is true and accurate.
I’m 41, married, mother of 4 children, a writer. I was born in Selma, Ala., where most of my family lives. Before moving here I crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge every day.
Around 11:15 p.m. I came outside and sat on the hood of my car with my daughter, Shay, 23. We had heard from others that police were nearby because they had come on a call for a fight. As we sat down on the hood of our car to relax, police were leaving.
‘These are government apartments’
Officer Jeff Rahn approached Shay and me and said, “Go in the house.”
I asked, “Why?”
“Because I said so.”
I said, “I live here.”
He said, “I don’t care. These are government apartments.”
“Show me your [driver] license,” he said in a very loud and brusk voice.
I said, “I would like to speak with your sergeant.” I made that request because of his hostile attitude and the way in which she was speaking to me.
He asked for a second time for my license and I asked a second time to see his superior. By now we were on our feet.
Ordered into house, but daughter grabbed
“Please go into the house and get my phone,” I told my daughter. I asked her to call the police department and ask for a supervisor.
Shay began walking the 30 feet to the entrance of the apartment building. But he grabbed her arm and said, “Stay right here.”
I said, “Why did you grab my daughter like that? Is she under arrest?”
Officer Rahn said, “No.”
I was visibly upset that he had gripped at my daughter. “You should not have grabbed my daughter like that,” I said.
Officer Rahn told me to put my hands behind my back. For the third time I asked for his supervisor. He said the supervisor was on his way. He put me in handcuffs.
About two minutes later, the supervisor walked up on the sidewalk to my car. The officer asked me what had happened.
I told the supervisor that we were sitting out here on the car and that officer Rahn had approached us in a rude way and yelled at us, telling us to go into the house. I said that I had asked why and told the supervisor the answer of Jeff Rahn had given, which was, “Because I said so.”
He asked me, “Wouldn’t it have just been easier for you to go into the house?”
Supervisor approves seizure
I responded, “We live here. Can you ask him to remove the cuffs because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
He said he couldn’t because I had already been placed under arrest.
“Jeff Rahn never told me I was under arrest,” I told the supervisor. The supervisor asked officer Rahn, “Is she under arrest?” He said, “Yes.”
The supervisor asked officer Rahn if he had had on his camera. His response was, “No.” Had his audio been running. Rahn said, “No.” The supervisor said there was nothing he could do.
Jailed in pajama shorts
In the police car, I asked Officer Rahn, “How is it OK for you to come into our neighborhood and harass us the way you did?” He turned the radio up so he wouldn’t hear me.
Officer Rahn took me downtown to Cherry Street. I was wearing pajama short bottoms, a black wife-beater undershirt and house slippers. I am charged with disorderly conduct and was booked.
When I got there, a neighbor, Hanson Melvin, and I sat next to each other. We each said we had been arrested without cause. Amid our talking an officer told us to shut up. I saw the magistrate and she gave me a $500 bond on which I paid $50 to a bondsman to be set free.
I had a preliminary hearing July 14 in city court. A public defender said if I go six months “without any further incidents” or altercations my case would be dismissed. I said I’m not going to take that because I didn’t do anything wrong. I would rather just have a trial by jury.
Further affiant saith not. I swear the above and foregoing representations are true and correct to the best of my information, knowledge and belief.
Innocent women victim of police crime
Woman arrested after being told to ‘go inside’ because unit is ‘government property’
Officer ordered quietly chatting Gelpin into house, witness says
Rochelle Gelpin gives an interview with David Tulis at AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio. The David Tulis show is 9 a.m. weekdays.