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Victim of rogue officer asks expungement in botched city case

Hanson Melvin waits in the front lobby of the Hamilton County district attorney’s office prior to an interview with Neal Pinkston regarding perjured statements by an officer leading to his indictment. (Photo David Tulis)

The Hixson man who was arrested and indicted for walking in his apartment complex and refusing to state his social security number or show his driver license has petitioned Hamilton County criminal court for an expungement of his record.

Hanson Melvin, a father of 3, had to attend court the day his wife, Tarah, gave birth to their third child.

By David Tulis / Chattanooga News-Chronicle

Mr. Melvin was indicted on a charge of disorderly conduct based on perjured statements by Officer David Campbell of the Chattanooga police department. The May 29 arrest occurred at Northgate Crossing apartments in Hixson after Mr. Melvin stood his ground in face of an officer who acted without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

Mr. Melvin refused to plead guilty or cop a plea. He demanded the right to an indictment, and because the officer made perjured statements, the grand jury issued a “true bill” in August, ordering a trial. Mr. Melvin obtained a meeting with district attorney Neal Pinkston Aug. 24, the day before the hearing to indicate the case was corrupt. Mr. Pinkston the next day asked Judge Don Poole to throw out the indictment.

In dismissing the misdemeanor charge, the judge told Mr. Melvin to visit his clerk about expunging the record.

Mr. Melvin said he had been “walking and minding my own business. I went through a grueling process of trying to clear my name. They dismissed the case and gave me an expungement. I guess that’s pretty generous.”

Expungement enhances a man’s value

An expungement lets Mr. Melvin “clear my name. It lets me know I can go and go get a job without worrying about that being on my background. It lets me know that we won the battle.”

For a defendant invited by a judge to file expungement paperwork, Mr. Melvin’s labor was easy and didn’t cost him a penny.

“I went into the criminal court clerk and spoke to one of the assistants behind the desk and asked about getting my record expunged,” said Mr. Melvin, a laborer. “I put my information down on the paper and just signed the paper and they said they would send me a copy of the expungement and make sure they delete my record. It was a pretty simple process. I thought it would be a lot more involved. It was probably as easy as going into a store and buying a piece of bubble gum.”

Mr. Melvin wrote a detailed affidavit of his ordeal. That effort gave him the courage to file an internal affairs complaint against officer Campbell. Chief Fred Fletcher is still sitting on the report, the legwork of which was completed in August.

Rochelle Gelpin, a neighbor of Mr. Melvin, is trying to decide what to do in her arrest the same evening. She, too, demanded an indictment over a disorderly conduct charge filed by Officer Jeff Rahn. The grand jury rejected the cop’s accusations.

District attorney Pinkston declined to indict the officer over allegations of misdemeanor and felony perjury. Mrs. Gelpin’s has two options for seeking a remedy. She can file a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. She can petition the grand jury for a subpoena so that she might appear before the panel to testify against Officer Rahn since she has personal knowledge of the commission of a crime.

Officer Rahn arrested Mrs. Gelpin after telling her to go inside her apartment because the unit “is government property.”

— David Tulis hosts a talk show 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.

My efforts to help other media outlets puts today’s story about Hanson Melvin on Page 1 of the Chattanooga News Chronicle. Please support this local newspaper and its advertisers.

My effort to help other media outlets puts the above story about Hanson Melvin on Page 1 of the Chattanooga News Chronicle. Please support this local newspaper and its advertisers.

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Hanson Melvin stands at the spot where Chattanooga police arrested him without cause. (Photo David Tulis)

Hanson Melvin stands at the spot where Chattanooga police arrested him without cause. (Photo David Tulis)

LOCAL ECONOMY REMEDY IN COURT — Melvin’s solution to police state: ‘Waive the court,’ demand indictment

FILING A COMPLAINT — officer under perjury investigation for muddled tale of uppity black

INTERNAL AFFAIRS MAZE — Melvin presses claims vs. cop in hearing over false arrest

INDICTED — Meet Hanson Melvin, victim of police abuse, pending court case

DISQUALIFYING — Officer Campbell makes man ‘fear for my life’ in angry 2012 traffic stop

DA, DEFENDANT MEET — Pinkston asked to press ‘walking while black’ case vs. tough cop

INTERNAL AFFAIRS PROBE — Police abuse victim sees ‘blue honor’ conspiracy to save lying cop

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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