Multiple sources say that the Santa Ana Police Officers Association has yanked its endorsement of Orange County sheriff's candidate Bill Hunt.
The union's president, Joe Perez, did not return phone calls for comment, but other law enforcement sources say the decision was made because Hunt, a private detective and former sheriff's lieutenant, worked on a robbery case involving an alleged gang member.
"Our members are very upset with Mr. Hunt," one officer told the Weekly on condition of anonymity. "He testified against us in court."
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.
"I'm the constitutional candidate," said Hunt. "Everybody is entitled to their Sixth Amendment constitutional rights and the right to a fair defense. I'm simply standing up for that here with someone who I believe is innocent."
Hunt is running in the June election against appointed Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and Craig Hunter, Anaheim's deputy police chief.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly