Sheriff's resignation, pending attorney approval

MINOT, N.D. - The Ward County Commissioners have voted to accept the resignation of Sheriff Steven Kukowski, effective April 15, pending approval of attorney documents.

Kukowski, who was placed on paid administrative leave during former Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s tenure, faces three misdemeanor charges, stemming from an inmate’s death in 2014.

A special prosecutor says that Kukowski and his department failed to get Dustin Irwin the medical attention he needed while in custody in Ward County. Irwin died shortly after being transferred to Burleigh County.

Kukowski and his attorney have maintained his innocence.

The commissioners engaged in a closed-door executive session Tuesday morning for roughly two hours. According to the county auditor’s office and meeting records obtained by KMOT, the Commissioners ended their session and re-opened the meeting to the public, at which point Commissioner Alan Walter moved to take council advisement and accept Kukowski’s resignation.

The Commissioners voted 4 to 1 in favor, with John Fjeldahl as the only ‘no’ vote.

Kukowski was scheduled to appear at a removal bench trial next week before special commissioner Karen Klein.

His resignation is not official until all attorney documents are approved.

In January, the Commissioners pressed current Gov. Doug Burgum to lift Kukowski’s suspension and allow him to return to work, though the governor declined.

Maj. Bob Barnard is currently serving as acting Sheriff.

Kukowski is still scheduled to stand trial on the misdemeanor charges in July, according to the state district court website.

KMOT has reached out to the Ward County State’s Attorney’s office and is waiting to hear back.

Information & Photo Courtesy KMOT-TV

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