Couple convicted for resisting arrest for a crime they didn’t commit

SWAT team came looking for guns, found disgruntled water customer

The question of whether it's legal to resist arrest for a crime one didn't commit was answered in the negative last week when a jury convicted a Sacramento couple following a yearlong standoff over personal liberties.

On November 30, Patrick Lee O’Kane and Melissa Jean Andrews were found guilty of two misdemeanor counts apiece of willfully resisting peace officers. The verdict arrived one year and a month after they refused to surrender 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 didn’t turn out to be accurate.

A 45-minute stalemate ensued, in which authorities explained that they had a warrant to search the premises. 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.

While no shots were fired, O’Kane’s recollection of that event has only intensified. “They were here to shoot somebody,” he told SN&R. “There’s no doubt about it.”

It’s unusual for a misdemeanor case to result in a jury trial. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office averages between 150 and 200 a year, said spokeswoman Shelly Orio, who declined further comment on the case.

The claim that O’Kane possessed guns originated from an unnamed city Department of Utilities employee, who alleged that O’Kane promised to guard his home with a shotgun if the city shut his water off. But water service had already been terminated. Citing nonpayment, the city turned off the couple’s water without incident on July 15, 2014, more than three months prior to the SWAT team’s arrival, according to a DOU spokeswoman.

Andrews says the judge didn’t permit the jury to hear evidence that the search proved fruitless, but believes it would have swayed the verdict. O’Kane wasn’t convinced that would have mattered, but indicated he was unhappy with his public defense attorney. “He called no one and did nothing,” he said.

A probation and sentencing hearing has been scheduled for mid-January. Husband and wife each face 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.

O’Kane said he expected the judge to sentence him to the maximum. “It’s all bullshit,” he said. “It’s the most heinous thing I’ve seen in my entire life.”