Feb 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

South Dakota attorney general charged with misdemeanors after fatal car accident

Picture of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg

Jason Ravnsborg. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on Thursday was charged with three misdemeanors for hitting and killing a 55-year-old man with his car last year, AP reports.

Why it matters: Ravnsborg, who has a history of speeding and traffic violations, was able to avoid more serious felony charges and instead faces charges for careless driving, driving out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle while on his phone.

  • Ravnsborg could face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine on each charge, according to AP.

Details: Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell said the evidence could not support charges of vehicular homicide or manslaughter. For there to be a manslaughter charge, the state needed to demonstrate how Ravnsborg dismissed substantial risk.

Context: Ravnsborg was driving home alone from a dinner event in September when he became distracted, driving off the highway and striking Joseph Boever, according to investigators.

  • On Thursday, investigators added that they did not find any evidence that suggested Ravnsborg was driving under the influence.
  • Ravnsborg initially told law enforcement that he thought he hit a deer and did not notice until the next day that he had hit a man.

What he's saying: "I appreciate, more than ever, that the presumption of innocence placed within our legal system continues to work," Ravnsborg said in a statement.

  • He added that he could not imagine the "pain and loss" that the victim's family were going through.

The other side: Boever's family said they were disappointed to find out that the attorney general was only facing misdemeanor charges.

  • "I am disappointed but I’m not surprised," Boever’s cousin Nick Nemec told The Daily Beast. "I knew this was going to happen because I have researched state law."

What to watch: Boever’s widow, Jenny Boever, plans to file a civil lawsuit against Ravnsborg, The Daily Beast reports.

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