South Dakota AG Jason Ravnsborg told cops he thought he’d hit a a deer during his interview after a hit and run, in Sept last year
Newly released tapes of his police interview revealed his victim’s FACE came through windscreen and his glasses were left on passenger seat
The 44-year-old Republican Attorney General of South Dakota is facing calls to resign after newly released tapes of his police interview revealed disturbing evidence
He faces three misdemeanor charges ONLY, for a hit and run on September 12 in which 55-year-old Joseph Boever was killed
The newly released video evidence revealed cops told Ravnsborg how Boever had smashed through the windscreen, adding that the victim’s glasses had been left on a car seat
Gov. Kristi Noem said she believed Ravnsborg should resign as impeachment proceedings begin in the state Legislature
Ravnsborg has indicated that he has no intention of stepping aside The victim’s family intend to sue
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is facing calls to resign after police video evidence revealed his hit and run victim smashed through his windscreen and left glasses in the car – despite him telling cops he thought he had hit a deer, last year.
The video evidence shows investigators pushing the state’s top law enforcement officer, Jason Ravnsborg, in interviews after the fatal crash, questioning how he did not realize he struck 55-year-old Joseph Boever on September 12, 2020.
Ravnsborg, 44, had told police he only discovered he hit a man instead of a deer when he returned to the scene of the crash the following morning.
In the two videos released by Gov. Kristi Noem late Tuesday, investigators also reveal gruesome details of the collision, at one point telling Ravnsborg: ‘His face was in your windshield, Jason, think about that.’
The attorney general, a Republican in a GOP controlled state, is facing three misdemeanor charges but no felonies in the crash, as well as calls for his resignation from Gov. Noem and impeachment proceedings in the state Legislature.
‘Now that the investigation has closed and charges have been filed, I believe the Attorney General should resign,’ Noem said in the statement.
‘I have reviewed the material we are releasing, starting today, and I encourage others to review it as well.’
State Rep. Will Mortenson filed articles of impeachment against Ravnsborg on Tuesday saying that ‘following the collision, including during his reporting of the collision and the resulting investigation, Jason Ravnsborg undertook actions unbecoming the Attorney General’.
South Dakota law allows officials like the attorney general to be impeached for conduct that includes a ‘misdemeanor in office’.
Ravnsborg, who was elected to his first term in 2018, has indicated he has no intention of stepping down.
‘The Attorney General does not intend to resign,’ Ravnsborg spokesperson Mike Deaver told CNN.
‘At no time has this issue impeded his ability to do the work of the office. Instead, he has handled some of the largest settlements and legislative issues the state has ever been through.’
He added that ‘as an attorney and a Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserves, AG Ravnsborg has fought for the rule of law and personal liberties and would hope that he is afforded the same right and courtesy.’
Gov. Noem, a fellow Republican, made the extraordinary move of releasing over three hours of video from two separate interviews on Tuesday night as the impeachment charges were being filed.
One took place two days after the crash, while the other was weeks later, after investigators had determined more details about what happened.
Ravnsborg appeared unsure of how he had swerved onto a highway shoulder and killed Boever as he was driving home to Pierre from a Republican fundraiser, but detectives told him Boever’s glasses had been found inside his Ford Taurus and that bone scrapings were found on the rumble strip of the highway shoulder.
Investigators said they found one part of Boever’s severed glasses on the front, passenger-side floorboard, and the other part in the back seat.
‘Do you normally wear glasses or anything when you’re driving?’ one investigator asked in the first interview. Ravnsborg said he didn’t, and they follow up with a brief discussion about what glasses he wears.
The South Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation interviewed state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on September 30 about the hit and run in which Joseph Boever was killed.
State AG Jason Ravnsborg attended a GOP eventaiser at the Rooster’s Bar and Grill in Redfield on the night of the crash.
Witnesses at the fundraiser have vouched for the attorney general that they didn’t see him drinking alcohol and that he did not seem ‘impaired in any way shape or form’.
In the follow-up interview, investigators tell Ravnsborg: ‘They’re Joe’s glasses. So that means his face came through your windshield’.
The attorney general gasps and says, ‘I wondered about that’, as he said he had thought there would be more blood if something had come through the windscreen.
He appeared distressed as he heard how the impact with Boever’s body had left an imprint on the car hood and smashed the windshield.
‘I never saw him,’ he told the investigators. ‘I never saw him.’
In the interview, Ravnsborg insisted he wasn’t looking at his phone at the moment his car struck and killed Boever.
The detectives pressed Ravnsborg on whether he was distracted when he hit Boever.
After he said he was not using his phone before the crash, they confronted him with phone records, telling him they show he logged into his Yahoo email account and accessed a news website minutes before he called 911 to report the crash.
‘So, when we look at that, our concern is everything we are seeing here is it’s appearing you were on your phone reading political stuff at the time,’ the detective told Ravnsborg, adding, ‘People make mistakes.’
They pointed out that he had previously been called out for using Twitter while driving in the Black Hills, but Ravnsborg insisted that he had set the phone down before he hit Boever.
The last thing he remembered before the crash was turning off the radio and looking down at the speedometer, he claims.
He had been accelerating after passing through the town of Highmore but said he had not yet set his cruise control. Prosecutors said they determined Ravnsborg was driving 67 mph – just 2 mph over the speed limit – when he struck Boever.
The attorney general has been charged with using his phone while driving, but prosecutors said his phone records show he had locked the device about a minute before the crash.
The detectives also questioned how Ravnsborg could have searched the area with his cellphone flashlight, at one point walking right by Boever’s body, and not seen his body.
They pointed out that part of Boever’s white skin was exposed and a flashlight he had been carrying was still on. The detectives said it would have been hard to miss both Boever’s body, lying in the grass near the highway pavement, and a flashlight shining on a dark night.
Ravnsborg insisted he saw neither and pointed out that the sheriff and tow truck driver who arrived later also had not spotted Boever’s body or the flashlight.
Earlier in the interview, the attorney general told detectives that he had no idea he had killed a man until the next day when he stopped by the accident scene with his chief of staff, Tim Bormann.
He said, ‘I found the body and I just came to Tim, and I said: “Tim, Tim, Tim, you’ve got to come here. I found a body”.’
After an investigation that stretched over five months, prosecutors said they still had questions about the crash but were unable to file more serious criminal charges against Ravnsborg.
They charged him with careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone.
Michael Moore, the Beadle County State’s Attorney who is assisting in the case, said Monday that when Ravnsborg was interviewed by law enforcement after the crash, he gave ‘varying examples of possibly what could have happened’ to cause him to swerve on to the highway shoulder where he hit Boever.
But Moore said he expected more details to emerge with Noem promising to release more information this week.
Moore said of the crash investigators’ interview, ‘We have to live with what information they give us.’
Moore who had also asked the Department of Public Safety to not release the videos of the interviews, said Wednesday that, the videos’ release defies open records laws that exempt such information from being made publicly available, could influence potential jurors, and violates ‘the rules of professional responsibility’ for criminal cases.
‘Every defendant has the right to a fair and impartial trial,’ he added.
After the charges were announced, Boever’s widow revealed that she also intends to sue.
Lawyers for Jenny Boever, the victim’s widow, said in a statement last Friday that they would be filing a lawsuit against Ravnsborg partly in the hopes of getting answers to lingering questions about the crash.
‘The family deserves answers to what happened that night. The Attorney General should be held accountable for his actions, just like anyone else,’ lawyer Scott Heidepriem said in the statement.
‘As a family we are very disappointed in the decision to charge Mr. Ravnsborg with only three misdemeanors, none for killing a man,’ Nick Nemec, Boever’s cousin, has said in a statement.
Ravnsborg, a Republican, was elected South Dakota attorney general in 2018, according to his office’s website. If the House initiates Ravnsborg’s impeachment, it would require a vote from at least half of House lawmakers to advance the impeachment resolution to the Senate.
There, it would require two-thirds of senators to convi
A court date for Ravnsborg has not yet been set. He could face up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine on each charge, if convicted.