A woman who was ordered by police officer into her house because “it is government property” is dawdling over her options for redress of grievances.
Rochelle Gelpin, a rent-paying resident of Northgate Crossing Apartments in Hixson, was arrested May 29 without probable cause, jailed and indicted on a charge of disorderly conduct.
By David Tulis / Chattanooga News Chronicle
The grand jury found the accusations against her baseless and gave her a “no true bill” on Sept. 28. But the married mom of four children says she is angry at her treatment by Officer Jeff Rahn, against whom she filed an administrative complaint.
“I’m not going to let this go,” says Mrs. Gelpin says, now residing in Birmingham. “I don’t want you to think it’s over with, because it’s not. I want them to be responsible for how I was treated, my daughter and I. I don’t want it to be swept under the rug.”
A media investigation of her arrest indicates officer Rahn committed misdemeanor perjury in his written police report against Mrs. Gelpin and felony perjury in repetition of his story in oral testimony against her before the grand jury. His report is rebutted by Mrs. Gelpin, eyewitness Zaneka Steele and Mrs. Gelpin’s daughter, Shay.
“We are aware of the allegations” of perjury, said a spokeswoman for Neal Pinkston, the state’s attorney in Hamilton County, in October. “At this time, we are not going to be taking any further action on either case.”
Police had just cleared a disturbance in front of another building in the complex. According to an affidavit by neighbor Ms. Steele, “A police officer came up and said to the two women: ‘You need to go in the house.’ 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.”
Mrs. Gelpin objected to this treatment of the 20-year-old. “‘No, no, no you don’t put your hands on my daughter.’” Mrs. Gelpin said, according to the statement. “‘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.”
Mrs. Gelpin could request to be subpoenaed by the Hamilton County grand jury to testify of personal knowledge of the commitment of a crime against her. She could file a civil lawsuit, but says she hasn’t found an attorney she believes will act boldly.
The disorderly conduct statute is used as a throwaway charge against defendants to get them to accept a plea bargain. Nothing Mrs. Gelpin did meets any of the clearly worded parts of the statute, which also contains two unconstitutionally vague provisions.
— David Tulis hosts a talk show 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at Noogaradio 1240 AM, covering local economy and free markets. The show airs downtown in the afternoon at 101.1 FM.