Home U.S South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sends AG crash investigation to House

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sends AG crash investigation to House

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday renewed her efforts to force the state’s attorney general from office after he hit and killed a pedestrian last year, delivering to the House speaker an external hard drive containing the crash investigation file.

The House had indicated earlier this year that it might resume talks of impeachment after the trial against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg concluded. That happened last week when the Republican attorney general pleaded no contest to a pair of traffic misdemeanors for a crash last year that killed Joseph Boever, who walking on a rural highway on Sept. 12.

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Ravnsborg avoided jail time but was sentenced to fines totaling over $4,500 for making an illegal lane change and using a cellphone while driving. Investigators said his car had swerved onto the shoulder of the rural highway where Boever was walking and found that Ravnsborg had been on his phone about a minute before the crash.

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2014, file photo South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg speaks in Sioux Falls, S.D. Attorney General Ravnsborg will avoid a trial and take a plea deal for misdemeanor traffic charges in a crash last year in which he hit and killed a man who was walking along a rural highway, a prosecutor said Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2014, file photo South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg speaks in Sioux Falls, S.D. Attorney General Ravnsborg will avoid a trial and take a plea deal for misdemeanor traffic charges in a crash last year in which he hit and killed a man who was walking along a rural highway, a prosecutor said Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.
(AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File)

The Republican governor has applied maximum pressure on Ravnsborg to step down, but so far he has resisted those calls and insisted he can carry forward in his office.

“The remarkable detail in this investigation file will assist the House in its important work of considering whether to proceed with impeachment articles for the attorney general,” Noem said in a statement.

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House Speaker Spencer Gosch said he would be evaluating the investigation, but he had not determined the process in the House and what information would be publicly released.

Noem’s secretary of public safety, Craig Price, said in a publicly released letter to Gosch that he believed the attorney general should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks to attendees at the North Carolina GOP convention on June 5, 2021 in Greenville, North Carolina. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks to attendees at the North Carolina GOP convention on June 5, 2021 in Greenville, North Carolina. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

“In my opinion as a 24-year law enforcement officer, and in the opinion of the highly trained highway patrol officers involved in this investigation, Mr. Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter,” Price stated. “The prosecution team was well aware of that position.”

Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell, who brought the misdemeanor charges, said in February the evidence simply didn’t support felony charges of vehicular homicide or manslaughter, which could have meant years of prison time.

The governor’s office released a list of 65 items in the investigation file, including cellphone data, interviews and crime scene mapping.

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“Politics never entered into this investigation,” Price said in his letter.

However, Ravnsborg has charged that the investigation was exploited by “partisan opportunists.” He did not name the governor, but his attorney, Tim Rensch, did. He said last week Ravnsborg was not treated fairly by the governor, who oversaw the crash investigation.

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