CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A North Royalton police officer, who was facing charges of perjury, tampering with evidence, and falsification has plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing official business.
North Royalton Officer Steve Zahursky struck the plea deal Wednesday, two days after his trial started in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Zahursky was indicted on the charges in March by special Prosecutor John Ricotta.
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.