- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - The Ward County Commission has overruled the Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s suspension of Sheriff Steve Kukowski, who faces misdemeanor charges of refusing to perform a public duty and reckless endangerment in the October 2014 death of 25-year-old jail inmate.

Dalrymple suspended Kukowski last week while a criminal case proceeds against him. But the commission voted Friday to overrule the governor, saying an investigation should take place and a special commissioner must be appointed to oversee removal proceedings.

Commission Chairman Fjeldahl told KXMC-TV (https://bit.ly/1UCg2NO ) that none of those steps were taken.

The inmate, Dustin Irwin, died at a hospital after going into cardiac arrest. The state Corrections Department determined that Ward jail officials failed to give the Mandaree man proper supervision or medical treatment.

Kukowski maintains his innocence. He’s scheduled for a three-day jury trial beginning Aug. 29. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutor Seymour Jordan in March petitioned Attorney General Stenehjem to initiate the process of removing Kukowski. State law allows for the governor to remove certain public officials in some situations. North Dakota governors have removed four sheriffs in the past 31 years.

Now-retired Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Nason also faces a misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge in Irwin’s death. His attorney has said Nason did nothing wrong. Nason also is scheduled to stand trial in August.


Information from: KXMC-TV, https://www.kxnet.com

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