Impeachment proceedings against South Dakota’s attorney general – who has been charged in a car crash that killed a pedestrian – have been put on hold until the outcome of his criminal case.
The South Dakota House of Representatives voted 57-11 on Monday to suspend two articles of impeachment against the state’s top law enforcement official, Jason Ravnsborg, 44, who is facing three misdemeanor charges in a Sept. 12 crash that killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
Legislators will pause the push to oust the Republican until a county circuit judge determines his fate at trial, the newspaper reported.
Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Pierre) said the chamber had no other choice since a gag order was issued in the case following the release of video by the state’s Department of Public Safety showing investigators questioning Ravnsborg about the fatal crash.
At the time, the AG said he thought he had hit a deer.
Mortenson filed an impeachment resolution against Ravnsborg two weeks ago, saying his distracted driving and actions following the crash made him unfit for office.
Detectives told Ravnsborg they found a pair of broken glasses inside his vehicle during a Sept. 14 interview. Weeks later, during a second sit-down, investigators told Ravnsborg that the glasses had belonged to Boever – prompting the attorney general to insist he hadn’t seen the glasses until detectives showed them to him.
Ravnsborg also claimed he didn’t realize he hit a person while driving his 2011 Ford Taurus as he returned home from a GOP fundraiser, saying he thought he slammed into a deer.
“I did not see him,” Ravnsborg said. “I did not see anything. I did not know it was a human until the next day.”
A blood sample taken about 15 hours later showed no alcohol in Ravnsborg’s system. He has been charged with careless driving, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device and veering out of his lane.
Crash investigators have said Ravnsborg, who was elected in 2018, was distracted when he slammed into Boever as he walked along a highway shoulder.
Ravnsborg, who did not admit to any wrongdoing during the interviews with investigators, has refused calls to resign. He’s set to make his initial court appearance in the case Friday in Pierre, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
If convicted, each charge he faces carries a potential penalty of 30 days in county jail and a $500 fine, according to the newspaper.