Opening statements begin in trial North Royalton officer facing charges of perjury, tampering with evidence

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CLEVELAND (WJW)–  A jury was seated Tuesday in the trial of a North Royalton police officer who is facing charges of  perjury, tampering with evidence, and falsification.

Shortly after the jury was seated, opening statements began in Officer Steve Zahursky’s trial.

Testimony is expected to begin Wednesday.

Zahursky was indicted on the charges in March and has entered not guilty pleas.

The trial is being held in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and could last several days.

State agents with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation started looking into allegations against Zahursky in the fall  of 2018 after a request was submitted by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O’Malley.

That request was made shortly after the FOX 8 I-Team broke the story that Parma Municipal Court Judge Timothy Gilligan wrote a scathing opinion in October 2018  which states Zahursky’s report on an OVI arrest contained numerous exaggerations. The judge further noted that “such dishonesty stains the badge of all courageous police officers dedicated to protect and serve.”

The judge wrote his opinion after  a 23-year-old recorded his OVI arrest on a cell phone and that video was played in court.

Atty. Tony Manning, who represents,  Austin Smith- Skinner, 23, of North Royalton, says the video shows his client was not intoxicated when arrested.

The officer stated in his report that Smith-Skinner slurred his response on 27 separate occasions. The judge, however, states that after reviewing the videotape “the defendant at no time slurred his words.”

The OVI case against Smith-Skinner was dismissed.

Read more, here.

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