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South Dakota Removes Hit-And-Run Killer AG And It Only Took Two Years!
The wheels of justice, boy, I don't know!
The South Dakota state Senate voted Tuesday to convict state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg in his impeachment trial, removing him from office nearly two years after he struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever while driving late at night. Ravnsborg maintained throughout the investigation that he'd been sure he had hit a deer until he returned to the scene, where he and others found Boever's body.
Police determined that Boever had been walking on the shoulder of the highway when he was hit, although Ravnsborg maintained he had been driving safely when he hit something.
"Again, why would a man be walking down the road?" Ravnsborg asked North Dakota investigators in Sept. 2020. "I believe I'm on the road and — wham. My life changes."
A crash reconstruction found that Ravnsborg had all four tires on the shoulder of the road when he struck Boever.
Investigators told Ravnsborg that Boever's body ended up lying only a couple of feet from the edge of the road. A flashlight Boever carried was still on, even when investigators found it later, they said. Ravnsborg repeated many times that he never saw the body that night.
Police also advised Ravnsborg that Boever's glasses were found inside Ravnsborg's car, which certainly came as a surprise to Ravnsborg, who no doubt wondered how a deer had gotten hold of a man's glasses like that and then moved the shoulder of the road to the lane where he'd been driving.
Oh yes, and while Ravnsborg insisted he hadn't been distracted while driving, the investigation found that data showed that up until a minute before the crash, the phone had been accessing news articles and blog posts.
"So, when we look at that, our concern is everything that we're seeing here is appearing that you were on your phone reading political stuff at the time," one investigator said in an interrogation.
"But I just wasn't," Ravnsborg replied. "I set it down."
Also too, two days after the crash, Ravnsborg pumped a state forensics expert with the state Division of Criminal Investigation about the kinds of data that could be recovered from cell phones. Ravnsborg's questions made the expert, Brent Gromer, so uncomfortable that he took notes on the exchange and sent them along to his supervisors. Gromer explained,
We were not supposed to be involved. We conflicted out of this investigation and contacted North Dakota to do the investigation. We were not supposed to have anything to do with it.
In his impeachment trial, Ravnsborg was charged with two counts: committing crimes that caused a death, and malfeasance in office, because he had misled law enforcement and abused the power of his office. The latter charge stemmed in part from his meeting with Gromer.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who had asked Ravnsborg multiple times to resign, praised the state Senate's verdict:
“After nearly two years the dark cloud over the attorney general’s office has been lifted,” she said. “It is now time to move on and begin to restore confidence in the office.”
Noem will appoint a replacement to serve out the rest of Ravnsborg's term. In addition to convicting him, the state Senate also voted to bar him from ever serving in any public office in South Dakota again. South Dakota Republicans will pick an AG candidate for the general election at their annual convention this weekend.
Ravnsborg had previously pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges that very conveniently didn't require any jail time; when he was impeached, he accused Noem and the legislature of WITCH HUNTING him, arguing that "No state has ever impeached an elected official for a traffic accident."
He also said he was terribly sorry that the legislature went and involved his victim's family in "this highly political situation," because surely they were as hurt by Ravnsborg's impeachment as he was.
The New York Times reports that, on the eve of the Senate's vote in his impeachment, Ravnsborg released a letter explaining that he
“could not resign then and cannot resign now because the incident did not impede my ability to perform the functions” of attorney general.
Truly, South Dakota will have difficulty finding a new attorney general who so clearly understands devotion to duty and ethics and stuff.
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