Off-duty Fairlawn cops suspended for leading on-duty officers on a fast chase

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-08 21:09:03-05

Two Fairlawn police officers, who were off-duty when they led on-duty officers on a high-speed chase, have been suspended without pay, according to law director Bryan Nace.

Officer Justin Herstich was suspended for 45 days, but 15 days were held in abeyance. He began serving the suspension this week.

Officer Brandon Foster was handed a 15-day suspension, but 10 of those days were held in abeyance.

RELATED: Charges filed against off-duty Fairlawn officer for leading on-duty cops on chase

In addition, Herstich cannot be a training officer or an officer in charge for one year. Foster can't take on either of those roles for a period of nine months.

"There's an economic aspect here that hits them in the pocketbook, but I also I think it sends a message that you can't have this type of lack of judgment even when your off duty," Nace told News 5.

The incident started around 1:40 a.m. on May 7, 2016 when Fairlawn officers clocked an SUV going 77 mph in a 35 mph zone on West Market Street.

The ensuring chase was captured on police dash camera.

Officers tried to pull over the vehicle, but the driver sped away and continued on Ghent Road and Smith Road before stopping in the Lake of the Woods subdivision in Akron.

Chief Ken Walsh said the chase lasted one minute and no one was injured.

However, the on-duty cops were stunned when they discovered the two men inside the SUV were off-duty Fairlawn officers. Herstich was driving. Foster was in the passenger seat.

Herstich faced traffic charges for speeding and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. He was also charged with willful fleeing.

The fleeing charge was reduced to obstructing official business, according to Akron Municipal Court. The officer was found guilty on the amended charge and given community service.

Nace said the officers could have been fired for their actions, but felts suspensions were warranted.

He added he had no explanation for why the officers created a chase in the middle of the night and called the situation "a bad lack of judgment."

"Obviously, we were disappointed. It's not what we expect from our police officers."