South Dakota releases video of investigation into AG's fatal car crash

‘His face was in your windshield’: South Dakota attorney general confronted in new video after fatal wreck

South Dakota lawmakers begin impeachment proceedings against attorney general Jason Ravnsborg

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 24 February 2021 22:53

Newly released video shows investigators confronting the South Dakota attorney general who is facing impeachment after he was charged last week with three misdemeanours for accidentally killing a man with his car last year.

Investigators interview South Dakota attorney general Jason Ravsnborg after he fatally struck a man with his car.

The video, released on Tuesday by South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, shows officers interviewing attorney general Jason Ravsnborg, who struck and killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever last September as he walked along the shoulder of Highway 14.

In the clips, Mr Ravnsborg, who called the police directly after the accident and cooperated with their investigation, appears unaware of certain details of the crash, and the officers remind him of the gruesome particulars.

"His face was in your windshield, Jason, think about that,” the investigators say at one point.

Impeachment proceedings began in the South Dakota House against the attorney general on Tuesday, and he has said he will not stop down.

"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," his spokesman Mike Deaver told CBS.

Mr Ravnsborg didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

The crash occurred as the attorney general was driving home to Pierre in his Ford Taurus after a Republican fundraiser.

In the video of the interview, Mr Ravsnborg described how he believed he was driving normally, and the crash happening without warning. He called police afterwards, believing he hit a deer or large animal.

"I’m thinking it’s a deer at this point, but I had, I did not see anything,” he said. “I didn’t have a time to swerve or accelerate or decelerate or anything.”

After the crash, he got out of his car and said he searched the scene with a phone flash light, and didn’t realise he hit another person until the day after, when he returned to the crash site.

“I did not observe any blood or fur or anything,” he tells the investigators in the video. “My debris was on the shoulder, and I believe I was on the road the whole time.”

Following a months-long investigation, Mr Ravnsborg was charged with careless driving, using a mobile device while driving, and failing to stay in his lane, all misdemeanours that could include 30 days of jail time and a $500 fine each. Prosecutors say he wasn’t using his phone during the crash, but had been just a minute before.

"When we started looking through and thinking about the duties that the attorney general owes to the people of South Dakota, and I think he owes a special duty to protect the people and uphold the laws. And I think that the actions in these incidents fell short of that duty," Rep. Will Mortensen, who sponsored the impeachment resolution, told CBS.

Prosecutors insisted the investigation into the attorney general was handled like any other and he didn’t get special treatment.

“Mr. Ravnsborg was treated no different than any other person would have been treated under these circumstances,” Emily Sovell, deputy state’s attorney for Hyde County, said in a news conference announcing the charges last week.

But some in the family of Mr Boever, the victim, aren’t convinced.

“I think he was given preferential treatment,” Victor Nemec, Mr. Boever’s first cousin, told The New York Times. “This state has a long tradition of going easy on their elected officials when they commit wrongdoings. There’s a definite good old boy network out here in how the state operates.”

Mr Boever’s widow is expected to file a lawsuit against the attorney general.

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