CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - For the next year North Royalton police officer Steve Zahursky will be back at work, but he’ll be on restricted duty.
That development came out of the blue this morning at his trial, where he faced felony charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court.
“This morning we entered into some negotiations” is how Special Prosecutor John Ricotta began the day.
Before the first witness hit the stand, he addressed the court saying he and the defense had entered into a plea agreement, dropping the most serious charges, including perjury. He was left with a second-degree misdemeanor, obstruction. He jumped at the deal.
“How do you plead, sir: guilty or not guilty? Guilty, your honor. And are you indeed guilty? Yes, your honor,” was the exchange between the officer and Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold.
In front of fellow officers he apologized for letting the case go on as long as it did. He never admitted to purposely falsifying his report.
“I think I need to prepare myself on any reports and testimony, and this wouldn’t be a situation that happened today,” was his only comment on the situation that got him indicted.
Judge Saffold’s comments after sentencing left you scratching your head in a way as she addressed the parties to the plea, saying “I feel bad about this plea. I do Henry. I do Mr. Ricotta, because I don’t know what he did.”
She is not alone. His attorney simply described the negotiations as “fluid”. After sentencing the man Zahursky ticketed seemed to just shrug it off when asked for his reaction, saying “Justice was served and it’s over, now, so everyone can go home.”
He has secured civil attorneys who are investigating the case and say they are likely to file a claim against Zahursky and the city of North Royalton for damages.
There is a side benefit to all of this. It’s not likely to happen again. Since the Zahursky affair officers in North Royalton are now in the process of being equipped with body cameras and dashcams.