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Cops and Courts

Former Lorain police officer charged with OVI in Elyria

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A man who resigned in December from the Lorain Police Department was charged with operating a vehicle impaired after a crash in Elyria early Thursday morning.

Elyria police officers and firefighters were called to Gulf Road near Black River State Reservation around 1:30 a.m. Thursday for a report of a vehicle that had gone off the road and hit some trees. They found a silver 2016 Jeep Cherokee down an embankment about 40 feet off the west side of the roadway.

The driver was identified as Zachary Ferenec, 39, of Elyria. According to a police report, Ferenec was given a breath test, and registered a blood alcohol content of 0.16 — twice the limit for legal intoxication. The report said Ferenec refused field sobriety tests both in an ambulance and at the county jail, and refused a breath test at the jail as well, resulting in his license being suspended. Ferenec was charged with operating a vehicle impaired and released to a family member.

Ferenec had served as a patrolman for Lorain Police, but Capt. Roger Watkins said Ferenec resigned in December in pursuit of other employment. Watkins said Ferenec’s last day with the police department is today, but he’s been using up his leave in advance of his departure, and hasn’t been scheduled to work for the past month or so.

Ferenec was one of the police officers involved in the 2014 arrest of Pele Smith. Dashcam video showed Smith hitting the windshield with enough force to crack the glass. Ferenec said that Smith was resisting arrest, and they both fell forward, with Smith hitting the windshield. A Lorain police investigation determined Ferenec did not use excessive force, and prosecutors declined to pursue charges.



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