Pierre, S.D. After Jason Ravnsborg struck pedestrian Joe Boever and killed him while driving, South Dakota senators removed Ravnsborg from office.
Questions arose after the Sept. 2020 accident, including questions about Ravnsborg’s conduct. He stated that he didn’t know that he had hit a person and not a deer. According to police, Boever was on the shoulder of a highway at the time Ravnsborg struck him.
Ravnsborg claimed that he didn't know what he hit during police interrogations. Boever's body was discovered the next day. Ravnsborg was told by investigators that Boever's windshield had been broken. Ravnsborg found Boever's glasses in his car.
"Again, why would someone be walking down the street?" Ravnsborg questioned North Dakota investigators in September 2020. "I believe that I'm on my way and aEUR" wham. My life is changing."
According to crash reconstruction, Ravnsborg had all four tires on his shoulder when he hit Boever.
Ravnsborg was told by investigators that Boever's body ended-up lying just a few feet from the road edge. They said that a flashlight Boever wore was still in use, even after investigators discovered it. Ravnsborg repeatedly stated that he did not see the body that night.
Ravnsborg also denied that he was distracted by his phone. However, investigators presented data that showed Ravnsborg was looking at blog posts and news articles on his smartphone up to a minute before the crash.
"So, when you look at that, we are concerned that it appears that you were reading political stuff on your phone at the time," an investigator stated during interrogation.
Ravnsborg responded, "But I just wasn’t," It was written down by me.
Ravnsborg met with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation two days after the crash to discuss what type of information could be recovered from mobile phones.
Brent Gromer, the South Dakota DCI expert, said he was not comfortable with the meeting.
"We weren't supposed to be involved. We were not supposed to be involved in this investigation so we contacted North Dakota for the investigation. It was not our job to be involved in it."
Gromer made notes of the meeting after the meeting and sent them to his supervisors. This meeting was a key part of the basis of the second article on impeachment for malfeasance at the office.
Ravnsborg was charged for three misdemeanors in connection with the accident. In a criminal case arising from the accident, he pleaded not guilty to two of them.
Attorney General Ravnsborg was the first state official to be impeached and removed from office. He is also barred from any future office in the state.
The votes were cast at the close of Ravnsborg’s impeachment trial at Pierre's Capitol. Ravnsborg was present at the proceedings, but he chose not to testify in front of the Senate.
Two separate articles were used by the state House of Representatives to impeach Ravnsborg in January. This led to the Senate trial. The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 24-9 in favor of the first article of impeachment, relating to crimes that led to the death of Joe Boever. The second article was for malfeasance while in office and was approved by 31-2 senators.
Republican Senator Tim Johns voted against the impeachment articles. He stated that the results don't set a good precedent.
Johns stated, "I believe if you don’t like their job, you vote them off." "You don't use impeachment. That's what you should do for extremely egregious acts. None of these aEUR" Yeah, a man was killed. This is the tragedy. This is not enough to impeach.
Ravnsborg did not respond to questions from the media on Tuesday.
Jenny Boever (Joe Boever's widow) also did not comment.
Joe Boever is a cousin of Victor Nemec. He stated that he was happy with the result and is glad it's over.
Nemec stated, "With me there's no real closure because my cousin has still gone." "But glad it worked out our way, and it kind of gives us a bit of hope for the state."
Mark Vargo, Pennington County State's attorney was the lead prosecutor in Ravnsborg's impeachment case.
Vargo hopes that the Senate vote will mean politicians won't be able to use their position in order to gain favor from law enforcement.
"I hope that it means some of the 'do-you-know-who-I-am?' Vargo stated that if Vargo was to use his position, he would say, "I'm the attorney General." "My first boss made it clear that you would be fired if you were pulled over or if the officer saw your badge. It was a given.
Republican Senator Jim Bolin voted for removal and disqualification. He hopes that the Senate vote will show that no one is above law.
Bolin stated, "I believe that it more than anything else it signifies that we have an extremely high standard for elected officials et that everyone is subject the same rules."
Gov. Kristi Noem will appoint an attorney general replacement to serve until January. This weekend, the Republican Party will hold its convention where it will elect a new nominee to represent them in November.