South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) has been charged with three misdemeanors stemming from a fatal accident that occurred five months ago, when he struck and killed a pedestrian with his vehicle on a highway late at night.
What are the details?
On Sept. 12, Ravnsborg was driving home from a political event when he ran into 55-year-old Joseph Boever. The attorney general called 911 at around 10:30 p.m. to report that he "hit something" that "was in the middle of the road."
According to the call transcript, a dispatcher asked Ravsnborg, "Do you think it was a deer or something?" to which he replied, "I have no idea. Yeah, it could be, I mean it was right in the roadway..."
Ravnsborg returned to the scene of the accident the next morning along with authorities, when Boever's body was discovered. The attorney general put out a statement that night saying he was "shocked and filled with sorrow" over the incident, and that was "fully cooperating with the investigation."
The Argus Leader reported that Thursday, Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanors in connection with the crash: operating a vehicle while using a mobile or electronic device, a lane driving violation for driving outside of his lane, and careless driving. The announcement was made by Hyde County deputy state's attorney Emily Sovell.
If convicted, Ravnsborg could face up to 30 days in jail and fines of $500 for each offense, but he was spared from being charged in connection with Boever's death.
Prosecutors said the facts in the case simply did not warrant manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges over the incident, given that there was no evidence that Ravnsborg was under the influence, and that driving outside one's lane does not meet the legal definition of "reckless."
Beadle County State's Attorney Michael Moore explained to reporters, "Recklessness is an extremely high burden for us to establish and in this case we don't have it. I don't feel good about it but it's the right decision."
A spokesman for Ravnsborg told the Rapid City Journal that the attorney general does not plan to resign, and will not speak with the media until he has had a chance to review the charging documents and evidence.
Meanwhile, Boever's family members have been highly critical of authorities over how long the investigation has taken. Boever's widow, Jenny Boever, plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Ravnsborg over her husband's death.
Following the news of charges against the attorney general, Gov. Noem tweeted, "My heart goes out to Joseph Boever's family. I am not going to comment on the specifics of Ms. Sovell's decision. I am directing the Department of Public Safety to share additional details of the investigation with the public within the next week."
My heart goes out to Joseph Boever’s family. I am not going to comment on the specifics of Ms. Sovell’s decision. I… https://t.co/PeuE3W132t— Governor Kristi Noem (@Governor Kristi Noem) 1613680083.0