- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Gov. Jack Dalrymple has appointed a special commissioner to initiate the process of removing accused Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski.

Kukowski faces misdemeanor charges of refusing to perform a public duty and reckless endangerment in the October 2014 death of 25-year-old jail inmate Dustin Irwin.

The Ward County sheriff is scheduled to make an initial court appearance March 21. He maintains his innocence and is scheduled for trial in August.

Kukowski returned from a medical leave a week ago but Dalrymple suspended him while his criminal case proceeds, on the advice of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. But the County Commission on Friday reinstated Kukowski, citing concerns about the process used to suspend him. Chairman John Fjeldahl had said one of the concerns was the appointment of a special commissioner.

Dalrymple spokesman Jeff Zent tells the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/28LRGCe ) the concerns “have been satisfied and the process moves forward.” Kukowski was served papers Monday notifying him that he’s once again suspended.

Zent said the county has five days from when it received notice of Kukowski’s suspension to name his replacement. Special Prosecutor Seymour Jordan, Divide County state’s attorney, earlier this year asked the governor to initiate removal proceedings of Kukowski.

Irwin died at a hospital after going into cardiac arrest. An investigation by the state Corrections Department determined that jail officials failed to give Irwin proper supervision or medical treatment.

As a result of the investigation, a special monitor was assigned to the Ward County Jail for an 18-month period in an effort to ensure compliance in several areas, including proper training of jail staff and overcrowding. The monitor’s term is expected to end later this month.


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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