South Dakota Attorney General Impeached After Fatally Running Over Man,Telling Authorities He Hit a Deer

The South Dakota House voted Tuesday to impeach state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over a fatal car crash he was involved in back in 2020.

As previously reported, Ravnsborg killed a pedestrian on his way back from a GOP dinner in September 2020 and then dialled 911 to report hitting "a deer or large animal."

Ravnsborg Committed Traffic Misdemeanors Before the Crash

Jason Ravnsborg
Jason Ravnsborg Wikimedia Commons

At the time, Ravnsborg, said he even used his cell phone flashlight to look around but did not he had hit a man until the body was discovered the following morning. The deceased man was identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever, who was struck while he was walking back to his crashed pick-up truck that he had parked in a ditch along the highway.

The Highway Patrol concluded that Ravnsborg's car crossed completely onto the highway shoulder before hitting Boever, and criminal investigators said later that they didn't believe some of Ravnsborg's statements. Ravnsborg pleaded no contest last year to a pair of traffic misdemeanors before the crash, including making an illegal lane change.

Boever's Glasses Found in Ravnsborg's Vehicle

The state's Department of Public Safety last year released recordings of investigators questioning Jason Ravnsborg about the Sept. 12 crash. The footage showed how, during a Sept. 14 interview, detectives told Ravnsborg that they had discovered a pair of broken glasses on the front passenger floorboard of his vehicle.

Joe Boever
Joe Boever Twitter

During a second sit-down on Sept. 30, interviewers asked about the glasses again, telling Ravnsborg that they had belonged to the victim. "They're Joe's glasses," an agent says, referring to Boever. "So that means his face came through your windshield." Upon hearing that, Ravnsborg looked down and sighed deeply, before shaking his head, the footage shows.

Ravnsborg Becomes First Official to be Impeached in South Dakota's History

In a vote of 36-31, Ravnsborg, a Republican, became the first official to be impeached in South Dakota history. He will at least temporarily be removed from office pending the historic Senate trial, where it takes a two-thirds majority to convict on impeachment charges. The Senate must wait at least 20 days to hold its trial, but has not yet set a date.

Ravnsborg, who took office in 2019, sent lawmakers a pair of defiant letters Monday night urging them not to impeach him. "In a few hours, your vote will set a precedent for years to come," Ravnsborg wrote. "No state has ever impeached an elected official for a traffic accident."

Ravnsborg's letter also accused Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of interfering in the investigation and of supporting impeachment because of the attorney general's investigations into her behavior. Noem argued that Ravnsborg lied to investigators.

The Republican-controlled House charged Ravnsborg with committing crimes that caused someone's death, making "numerous misrepresentations" to law enforcement officers after the crash and using his office to navigate the criminal investigation. A Senate conviction would mean Ravnsborg would be barred from holding any state office in the future.

"Never before in our state's history has it been that a state official criminally ended the life of one of our citizens and refused to resign from that post," Mortenson said on the House floor Tuesday, as per LA Times. "I believe impeachment should be reserved only for grave and exceptional circumstances, and I believe this is one."

Noem lauded the decision in a post on Twitter.