North Royalton officer facing perjury charges after video of DUI arrest surfaces
Judge says his behavior “stains the badge” of other officers
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - North Royalton police officer Steven Zahursky is now charged with perjury, tampering with evidence and falsification of records after a judge questioned his version of what happened during a traffic stop.
Zahursky pulled over Austin Smith Skinner, who decided to record the traffic stop with his cell phone.
The video shows Smith Skinner doing sobriety tests and speaking clearly after being stopped.
In the video, you can hear Officer Steve Zahursky ask, “Do you understand what you’re doing here?”
Smith Skinner answered, “After this test am I free to go. I understand what I’m doing but I’ve done three tests.”
Officer Zahursky is a top DUI enforcer year after year. At one time, he was the best in Ohio.
But arrest made Smith Skinner’s attorney Tony Manning wonder.
Could the tape be valuable evidence in a case that is usually hard to defend?
Manning said without the tape, “How do you fight it, how do you fight an officers word against yours?”
If it weren’t for the video, Smith Skinner might easily have been convicted on Zahursky’s testimony alone.
But, Judge Tim Gilligan saw the video after the officer’s testimony and quickly noted that the video version of events didn’t match what Zahursky testified to under oath.
In his report, Zahursky noted Smith Skinner slurred his words 27 times.
In court, Manning had the officer demonstrate slurring, it was nothing what was on the video.
“Having him demonstrate what is slurring. I think that was key,” Manning said.
Smith Skinner was also charged with fleeing, resisting arrest, and more.
The judge also dropped those charges.
In his judgement entry, Gilligan said what Zahursky did in his report and on the stand “stains the badge of all courageous police officers dedicated to protect and serve.”
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