WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - The man who fatally struck and killed a Willoughby police officer was sentenced to four years in prison Monday.
Scott Leland testified on his own behalf and apologized in Lake County Court of Common Pleas to the family and wife of Officer Jason Gresko. Family members and Officer Gresko's wife also spoke in court.
On Sept. 21, 2012, Officer Gresko, 32, was responding to Lake Health West Medical Center in Willoughby to help with a disruptive patient.
Officer Gresko was driving northbound on Harmony Lane when a pickup truck driven by Leland appeared to turn left into the path of the officer's cruiser. Officer Gresko swerved to avoid the truck but struck a tree with his cruiser.
Leland, charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, operating a vehicle under the influence and endangering children, was also sentenced to a 10 year license suspension and a mandatory $1,000 fine.
Willoughby Police Chief Jack Beckwith released the following statement after the sentencing:
"September 21, 2012, our Department lost a member of our family due to a traffic accident. Our officers investigated that accident as they would any similar accident. The resulting investigation was turned over to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, charges were brought on the other driver, and ultimately the case ended in a plea. That plea came only after the Prosecutor's Office worked closely with family members and the Willoughby Police Department. The court considers many factors before sentencing including the impact to immediate family members. As with any case presented for prosecution, the law enforcement community relies on the judicial system to properly administer the final judgment and we support and respect their decisions as we do Judge Gibson's. We would like to thank the Lake County Prosecutor's Office for all their hard work as well as Judge Gibson's court.
"The Willoughby Police Department has endured one of the most devastating blows a police department can. The members of the Willoughby Police Department have conducted themselves professionally throughout. When an officer is lost in the line of duty due to the deliberate act of a criminal it gives his fellow officers someone to focus some animosity toward, a direction for their anger. I think the reality of this case is that it weighs on everyone knowing that this is devastating to families on both sides. No sentence can change what is done, but there is some closure for the Gresko family and the Willoughby Police Department.
"We would like to thank the community for their support in general as well as everyone who has directly assisted the Gresko family or Willoughby Police Department in any way. The overall support of the community is comforting to everyone affected."