A former candidate for City Council in St. Petersburg, Akile Anai, will be going to court later this month to face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Anai, a vocal member of the city’s Uhuru movement, claims she is the target of police and political action.
As in most of these cases, there are two wildly different versions of what led to the arrest. Anai said she left her home to find out what was going on. According to her, two officers told her to leave the scene.
When police arrested a second friend, Anai said she walked toward her house to make a telephone call, speaking out loud about what the police were doing.
The officer “didn’t particularly like what I was saying on the phone,” Anai continued. He then pulled her hair and slammed Anai against a car before she too was arrested and detained.
It was then she was asked by all three officers present to step back. Despite that, Anai continued to approach and yell at the police in a nonviolent way.
Anai was offered a diversion program to cancel out the arrest but refused to participate, claiming to be completely innocent of “bogus” charges.
Now, who knows which version is the truth. We may never know. The police have broad latitude in these instances and if Anai didn’t obey the officer’s order that could be construed as obstruction and resisting arrest. Here’s what Florida law says:
The definition for Resisting is contained in Section 843.02, Florida Statutes, which provides:
Whoever shall resist, obstruct, or oppose any [law enforcement or probation] officer or other person legally authorized to execute process . . . In the law execution of a legal duty, without offering or doing violence to the person of the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree . . .
To prove this in a court of law, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant resisted, obstructed, or opposed a law enforcement officer;
- At the time, the officer was engaged in the execution of legal process or the lawful execution of a legal duty;
- The officer was a person legally authorized to execute process; and
- At the time, the defendant knew that the person resisted, obstructed, or opposed was in fact an officer or other person legally authorized to execute process.
The defense will have its work cut out for them to prove their client’s innocence. When a police officer gives you a command, you obey it or suffer the consequences. If you want to fight the officer’s decision, it’s much better to do it in a courtroom rather than on the street.