A judge has ordered the forfeiture of a truck seized from a traffic stop that netted illegal narcotics and a man police say was involved in a shooting in July in Mandan.
South Central District Judge David Reich signed the order for forfeiture to the Mandan Police Department on Oct. 12. Defendants Ryan Azure and Kassandra Brady were arrested July 5 in the traffic stop involving the truck, a black 2006 Dodge Ram 1500.
Mandan police had sought Azure in connection to the shooting from July 2 in Mandan. He is accused of shooting 37-year-old Melvin Jeanotte with a rifle after a nighttime altercation.
Azure is charged with 15 felonies and misdemeanors related to the shooting and drugs. Brady faces two drug-related charges.
They each have pleaded not guilty. Neither has been adjudicated. The truck has been impounded in Bismarck since its seizure.
Civil asset forfeiture is a separate matter from criminal proceedings in North Dakota. The Institute for Justice has ranked North Dakota as one of the worst states in the country for civil asset forfeiture, based on its low standard for forfeiture — probable cause — and the burden of proof placed on defendants to prove their property wasn’t involved in a crime.
State Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, has sought to reform civil asset forfeiture laws in North Dakota, but a bill he proposed found zero support in the state Senate after passing the state House in 2017. He has said he will take up the matter again in the 2019 session, or eventually seek reform in an initiated ballot measure.