I was surprised when I heard that the Santa Ana Police Officer’s Association (SAPOA) pulled their endorsement for Hunt. Something in this story just didn’t sound right so I called Bill this morning to get his take:
Bill Hunt was hired by attorney Ricardo Nicol to help look at a criminal defense case of Victor Manuel Lua who is charged with a Santa Ana assault and robbery. Early on Nicol and Hunt found holes in the prosecutor’s case. The suspect was a known gang associate of the Santa Ana street gang known as F-Troop who has a prior conviction on his record. Right there most of us would say case closed, guilty as charged. However, the justice system doesn’t work that way.
In this case, Nicol and Hunt had to look a little deeper. The suspect had completed his four years of probation without any further legal troubles and appeared to be getting his life together. Ok, no violins please. At the time the crime occurred, the suspect was not in the vicinity. Hunt says the cell phone records don’t lie.
Further the original description was of two shaven head Latinos in blue jeans on a single bicycle. The suspect on trial was wearing basketball shorts and slippers (us older folks might remember them as thongs or shower shoes). A gun was used during the crime and no gun has been found since. Lua was in his truck just 400 feet from the crime scene when the officers decided he looked like he could be one of the described perpetrators because his head was shaven much like many other Latinos in Santa Ana and he had a criminal record. Also worth noting is that Lua was “caught” in what many describe as a rival gangs turf, implying that Lua isn’t actually in a gang nor was he associating with a gang at the time the assault and robbery occurred. Simply put, this is a case of mistaken identity which the evidence in the case reportedly proves.
R. Scott Moxley reported via OC Weekly that “But Hunt disputes the assertion, saying that he was hired to work on a robbery case and recently attended a preliminary hearing but did not testify. He also says that his client, Victor Manuel Lua, is innocent of the charges based on evidence he’s developed and that the gang allegation is tenuous at best: The 20-year-old Lua, he says, grew up in a Santa Ana neighborhood controlled by a criminal street gang and thus knows members but is not one himself.”
Hunt goes on to connect the dots for us. He thinks the DA began getting nervous when he started putting the pieces together and blowing up the prosecutions sure conviction. And we all know who the number two person at the DA’s Office is: Susan Schroeder, wife of Mike Schroeder.
Yes, the same Mike Schroeder that gave us convicted felon Mike Carona; the same Mike Schroeder who is pushing hard to give us Craig Hunter, an Anaheim PD deputy chief. It’s obvious at this point that it looks like the Santa Ana PD dropped the ball with their due diligence and investigation. And everyone knows when the PD looks bad the chief looks bad and so enters SAPD Chief Paul Walters, the possibly still disgruntled former sheriff’s candidate who appears to have finally given up on running and is now supporting Hutchens. You heard me correctly, he supports Sandra Hutchens.
Moxley reports this quote, “Our members are very upset with Mr. Hunt,” one officer told the Weekly on condition of anonymity. “He testified against us in court.” Why do you suppose the anonymity? Is he or she afraid of something? What could a police officer be scared of?
No doubt Santa Ana police officers are upset and embarrassed for being called out in court over what appears to be a rush to judgment by the officers and investigators.
The real irony rests in two final thoughts. First, Bill Hunt has caught a lot of flack from immigrant rights folks who say he is a racist and anti-Mexican. This case alone clearly debunks that myth. Second, SAPOA provides assistance to its members who are charged with breaches in departmental policy and crimes. Their defense attorneys rely on private investigators to dig for the truth and protect them from wrongful prosecution and punishment. It seems highly hypocritical that this association would use their misguided logic to fulfill the political agenda of a handful of miscreants who are only concerned with their consulting contracts and political livelihood. You would think that it would have occurred to someone in the SAPOA that Hunt, as a PI, might work on criminal cases. But I suppose the SAPOA board members were too wrapped up in other matters or just didn’t care to know.
An interesting side note to the SAPOA and Chief Walters is that the SAPOA supported Hunt and the Walters supports Hutchens. Why not endorse the same candidate? Assuming the SAPOA endorses another candidate, who will they choose? Will they go against their chief by supporting the card-carrying union member Craig Hunter or will they fall in lockstep with their boss? You would think the SAPOA would realize the error of their decision and help the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) elect their candidate, Bill Hunt. I suppose the various OC law enforcement associations, though, are truly disconnected from one another and don’t see eye to eye except where wages and retirement are concerned.