Officer ordered quietly chatting Gelpin into house, witness says

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Zaneka Steele is an eyewitness to the arrest of neighbor Rochelle Gelpin in May. (Photo David Tulis)

Zaneka Steele is an eyewitness to the arrest of neighbor Rochelle Gelpin in May. (Photo David Tulis)

Witness Zaneka Steele heard from the balcony, right, the police seizure of Rochelle Gelpin, left, and the manhandling of her daughter, Shay, in a Chattanooga apartment complex. (Photo David Tulis)

Zaneka Steele witnessed from a balcony, top right, the police seizure of Rochelle Gelpin, left, and the manhandling of her daughter, Shay, in a Chattanooga apartment complex. (Photo David Tulis)

The following is an affidavit describing the arrest of Rochelle Gelpin of Chattanooga. It is made by her neighbor, Zaneka Steele. A grand jury issued a “no true bill” on disorderly conduct in favor of Mrs. Gelpin on Sept. 28. An internal affairs complaint by Mrs. Gelpin against officer Jeff Rahn is pending.

It plainly contradicts the sworn statement by city executive branch employee Rahn, who was required to repeat his story to the grand jury when Mrs. Gelpin refused to cop a plea or have the state charge heard in city court.

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I, Zaneka Steele of Northgate Crossing Apartments, 1664 Greendale Way, No. 212, Hixson, Tenn. 37343, do hereby affirm and solemnly swear that the following account of the arrest of Rochelle Gelpin on May 29, 2016, is true and accurate.

I work as a part-time resident assistant at Brookdale nursing home in Hixson. I am 32.

Mrs. Gelpin and her family are neighbors who live on the first floor. I witnessed her arrest from my second-floor balcony that overlooks the front yard and parking lot.

It was near midnight. There had been a disturbance down the row of buildings to my left. The crowd had dispersed but Chattanooga Police Department officers in several cars were on the scene.

Rochelle and her daughter Shay, who’s in her 20s, were sitting on the hood of their car as they often do. I was on my balcony enjoying the night.

A police officer came up and said to the two women: “You need to go in the house.”

‘It’s government property’

Rochelle said, “For what?”

He said, “Because it’s government property and you need to go in the house.”

She said, “I pay rent here.”

He said, “I don’t care. Go in the house.”

Shay turned to go in the house, but the officer grabbed her arm and yanked it.

Rochelle said, “No, no, no you don’t put your hands on my daughter.”

Officer grabs daughter

“You come back here,” the officer told Shay.

Rochelle said, “You just told us to go into the house.” That’s when Rochelle was like, “Don’t put your hands on my daughter.”

And he told Rochelle, “Put your hands behind your back.” He put handcuffs on her.

She asked to speak to the sergeant.

Another officer walked up. I heard him ask what’s going on?

I heard Shay talking on the phone down by the front the breezeway. It must have been the police department because she was asking if that person could bring a sergeant to the scene.

Mrs. Steele ordered off balcony

Before the officer put Rochelle in his car, the officer flashed his light up at me and said, “You need to go in the house.” I said, “For what?” And he said, “Because I said so.” I remained on the porch and watched the police car take Mrs. Gelpin away.

Further affiant saith not. I swear the above and foregoing representations are true and correct to the best of my information, knowledge and belief.

Exclusive coverage of lawless policing

Woman arrested after being told to ‘go inside’ because unit is ‘government property’

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