Melissa Andrews and Patrick O’Kane
The question of whether it’s legal to resist arrest for a crime one didn’t commit was answered in the negative Monday, when a jury convicted a Sacramento couple after a yearlong standoff over personal liberties.
Patrick Lee O’Kane and Melissa Jean Andrews were found guilty of two misdemeanor counts apiece of willfully resisting peace officers one year after they refused to exit their home to the Sacramento Police Department’s SWAT team.
O’Kane, 57, and Andrews, 69, say they were confused and frightened when bullhorn-amplified calls commanded them to exit their home on the morning of October 30, 2014. Sacramento police believed O’Kane, a felon, was in illegal possession of firearms, which wasn’t true.
A 45-minute stalemate ensued in which authorities explained that they had a warrant to search the premises and a skeptical O’Kane demanded to know exactly what, or who, they were looking for. It ultimately resulted in officers sneaking onto the property to forcibly take the couple into custody.
It’s unusual for a misdemeanor case to result in a jury trial. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office had 17 officers on its witness list for the one-week trial, Andrews said.
The allegation that O’Kane possessed guns originated from an unnamed city Department of Utilities employee, who said O’Kane promised to guard his home with a shotgun if the city shut his water off.
But the water was already off. Citing non-payment, the city turned off the couple’s water without incident on July 15, 2014, according to DOU spokeswoman Rhea Serran, more than three months prior to the SWAT team’s arrival.
A probation and sentencing hearing has been scheduled for mid-January. Each faces a maximum two years in prison and $2,000 fines. Andrews said she and her husband could appeal the verdict, but didn’t indicate whether they would.