How Santa Ana Cop Union Boss/Garden Grove Candidate Got Arrested for DUI–Yet Never Got Prosecuted

Gerry Serrano. Photo from Serrano’s Facebook campaign page

Gerry Serrano has dual ambitions this election season. As president of the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (POA), the powerful union at his helm is spending almost half a million dollars this year to get a slate of preferred City Council candidates to join cop-friendly council members Jose Solorio and Juan Villegas and Mayor Miguel Pulido, who won election in 2016 when the union spent about $400,000 on all races. Meanwhile, Serrano is making his own bid to become a councilman in Garden Grove’s District 1, following incumbent Kris Beard’s decision to not seek re-election.

The Garden Grove Police Officers Association endorses him, and the Association of OC Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles School Police Association have contributed to Serrano’s campaign. So has Solorio’s campaign committee in a tit-for-tat, since he received the Santa Ana POA’s backing in 2016.

In both cities, a familiar campaign platform emerges for Serrano: public safety. The police sergeant pledges to hire more officers in Garden Grove, just as POA-backed candidates in cash-strapped Santa Ana have done. It’s a campaign promise Serrano can bolster with decades of law-enforcement experience.

But public safety must have been far from Serrano’s mind on Oct. 9, 2011, when Westminster police arrested him for a DUI after he plowed into the back of a Subaru Impreza carrying two passengers, including a 7-year-old.

Police and traffic-collision reports obtained by the Weekly show how what might have been a simple exchange of information following a fender bender took a strange and hostile turn.

As recounted by the Impreza driver, Serrano became nervous when the man’s then-wife quickly called Westminster police. He told officer Paul Walker that Serrano begged to resolve the situation without police and even offered money to take care of the damage he caused.

But then nervousness gave way to belligerence, he said. Serrano disrespected his wife while slurring his speech. A dispatcher cautioned the victim to stay put, which he did.

But Serrano didn’t. According to the other driver’s then-wife, Serrano said something about having to get to his daughter’s game in Huntington Beach before pitching an index card with his contact information into their car and fleeing the scene. The Impreza followed the pickup truck but lost the trail; police told the man to go to an IHOP, where he met Walker.

Serrano’s looking for a big Tuesday night in two cities. Photo by Gabriel San Roman

While conducting the investigation, Walker received a call from then-Westminster detective Benjamin Jaipream; Serrano called the detective while away from the scene and had been instructed to return.

Serrano told Walker that the other driver slammed on the brakes, giving him no chance to avoid a collision, and that the other driver had threatened to beat him up. “I could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath,” Walker wrote. “I asked him to remove his sunglasses, and he did. At that point, I noticed Serrano’s eyes appeared watery and bloodshot and his speech was slurred.”

Serrano denied drinking anything alcoholic, but an unconvinced Walker had Serrano follow his finger with his eyes. Serrano failed the first time around; when Walker tried a second time, per his report, Serrano put his red baseball cap back on and quit a few seconds into it.

Serrano then proceeded to lecture Walker. Boasting about a 20-year career in law enforcement, he said the other driver should be under arrest for criminal threats, using police code. That prompted the Westminster cop to ask why he didn’t bother calling police if he believed he was the victim of a crime. Serrano countered by noting his call to Jaipream on the professed grounds of wanting the number for Huntington Beach police.

The claim seemed nonsensical, and Walker took it as further evidence of intoxication, especially since Serrano swayed around in a circular motion and appeared tired. “It has been my experience that people impaired by alcohol will often make irrational statements that don’t make sense to others,” Walker wrote.

Oh, and Serrano refused to take any field sobriety tests.

And then officers found an open, empty flask in the Chevy pickup’s glove compartment.

Walker officially arrested Serrano for driving under the influence and hit-and-run misdemeanors. Cuffed, Serrano decried a thin blue betrayal, according to the report. He lambasted Walker (who’d be honored as Officer of the Year by his department in 2014) and other officers on scene for being sick and pathetic while warning them not to come to Santa Ana. (Hey, that sounds like something F Troop would say!)

At the Westminster jail, the belligerence continued. Walker claims in his police report that Serrano tried to “chest bump” him, flipped him off once out of cuffs and called him a “piece of shit.”

“I ignored Serrano as I believed it was simply the alcohol that was impairing his judgement,” Walker wrote. But Serrano’s supposed antics couldn’t be ignored when it came to him refusing a blood or breath test. Lynn Fulton, a licensed vocational nurse, readied to perform a forced blood draw when Westminster police had to take a second-look. “Based on Serrano’s behavior in jail, it was determined unsafe for Fulton to perform the test,” Walker wrote.

That decision allowed Serrano to walk away from his arrest with no criminal charges.

Westminster police sergeant Edward Esqueda confirmed the case number from police reports and generally noted there’s instances in which people arrested for a DUI can be cited and released with only a blood test refusal documented, especially if they are uncooperative and no nursing staff is stationed at the jail near the end of a detoxification period. Esqueda also told the Weekly that they turned the Serrano case over to the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA), for criminal filing. That’s where the case died.

“I can confirm this case was received and rejected due to insufficient evidence,” said Michelle Van Der Linden, an OCDA spokeswoman. “A [field sobriety test] was not conducted, and blood was not taken, so there was no evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Weekly reached the other driver by phone, who declined to comment but confirmed the collision occurred.

To this day, Serrano denies any wrongdoing. “In 2011, I was involved in a non-injury traffic accident, and it was determined I did not break the law,” Serrano claimed in an email. “My record is clean.”

12 Replies to “How Santa Ana Cop Union Boss/Garden Grove Candidate Got Arrested for DUI–Yet Never Got Prosecuted”

  1. Serrano comits a felony (hit and run), berates the person he crashes into and somehow he thinks he is clean. He is a garden variety street hoodlum and wants other criminal deviants like Bacerra, running with him.

  2. Well the DA explained that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with the DUI but what about chest bumping the officer? Seems like there was evidence of assaulting an officer there

    1. There was enough evidence based on the failed street sobriety test. Serrano should be behind bars. He is a felon.

      I hope POA members now realize that they elected a street thug to run the Union and that they have zero credibility as a result.

  3. So what this article just stated is that you can refuse the field test and then become unruly while at the station to the point that it would un safe for them to preform a forced blood draw as well as refuse the breath test so they would have to vote and release you and the day would have to drop the case for not having evidence to support filing charges ???? Hmmmmmm

  4. This kind of thing doesn’t surprise me at all anymore. There’s a different set of rules for those with power. It’s sickening.

  5. This is normal for politicians on both sides. Seen this once before in Long Beach. Drunk person driving through parking lot down curb then crashes. Obviously drunk by his behavior at scene. Cops show up, tow truck and moments later another vehicle. The driver gets in the front seat of the private vehicle they tow the car and the cops all disappear. A few days later find out it’s someone on city council and it was all a missunderstanding by those that saw and reported the accident.
    Union rep fighting against those who he’s suppose to be representing? Idiot, and in my mind as I think of all union reps since I am a member of a union. Good for nothing but getting out of work by saying “I have union business to take care of” which is always trying to save the job of someone that deserves to be fired. Union leaders are the lazy ones that represent the bad workers and do nothing for those that work harder to make up for the losers they have actually represent. Interesting enough they are rarely white.

  6. Well boys and girls, the next time you are stopped for a Hit and Run while driving drunk; you can act like a-hole, think you’re above the law, be so intoxicated that the officer cannot perform the Field Sobriety Test safely, refuse to give blood at the station, then become belligerent and assaultive to the point the officer cannot force blood on you. Then you walk out scott free and tell everyone “I’m clean.” Oh wait, that only works for the thin blue line. Regular people would get their asses kicked for chest bumping a cop.

  7. Failing to write a report that will convict someone so intoxicated they can not complete a field sobriety test is actual or intentional incompetence.

  8. UNBELIEVABLE, any John Doe out there would get prosecuted to fullest extent of the law. In Politics/Government it’s not what you know but who you know. I understand when you refuse a blood test/urine test while arrested for DUI aside from the arrest you could loose your driving privileges for up to 6 months.

  9. I’m surprised he did not get his drivers license suspended. Refusing a sobriety test would result in having your drivers license suspended. It’s in our agreement when we sign-up/renewal for a CDL. I guess there are special exemptions for people like him.

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