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DPS Sec. Price: Ravnsborg should have been charged with manslaughter

SD Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg avoided jail time, but paid over $4k in fines and fees...
SD Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg avoided jail time, but paid over $4k in fines and fees associated with the misdemeanor charges he faced when he hit and killed Joe Boever in September of 2020. However, for the family of Boever, those charges and punishment do not go nearly far enough.
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The full investigation file into the fatal 2020 crash involving South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was handed over to the Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Craig Price, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, handed the investigation files over to Speaker Gosch at the direction of Gov. Noem.

Officials did not release the full investigation file to the public but did release a cover letter authored by Secretary Price which outlines what is included in the file.

In the letter, Secretary Price also states he believes Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Price says the South Dakota Highway Patrol was “ready and willing” to provide testimony regarding the crash and the investigation.

“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 2nd Degree Manslaughter,” said Price.

In March, Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives Spencer Gosch said the House would wait until after Ravnsborg’s legal proceedings to begin impeachment discussions.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem says she is “outraged” at the result of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s plea agreement and called on him to either resign or be impeached by the South Dakota State Legislature.

Three South Dakota law enforcement organizations have joined the chorus calling for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s resignation. The South Dakota Fraternal Order of Police, the South Dakota Chiefs of Police Association, and the South Dakota Sheriffs Association issued a joint statement earlier this year requesting Ravnsborg to resign.

On September 12, 2020, Ravnsborg was traveling late on a highway near Highmore after attending a political fundraiser. Ravnsborg called 911 and explained to a dispatcher that he had struck something with his car and was unsure what he had hit. Ravnsborg discovered the body of 55-year-old Joseph Boever the next morning when returning to his vehicle. Ravnsborg later told investigators he thought he struck a deer while driving home.

Ravnsborg avoided a trial and took a plea deal last week. Ravnsborg pled no contest to two misdemeanor charges in a plea deal with prosecutors.

Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to charges of making an illegal lane change and using a phone while driving, each carrying a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Ravnsborg was originally charged with three misdemeanors but prosecutors dropped a careless driving charge as part of the deal.

Ravnsborg was fined $500 on both counts and $3,000 for costs to secure the scene of the crash. The request for Ravnsborg to cover the cost of Boever’s funeral was denied.

The widow of the man killed, Joseph Boever, has indicated she plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Ravnsborg.

You can read Sec. Price’s full letter below:

Dear Speaker Gosch:

Pursuant to instructions by Governor Noem, as Cabinet Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, I am providing you with an external hard drive containing the investigative materials relating to the crash that occurred in Hyde County on September 12, 2020. During this crash, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed Joseph Boever.

The investigators’ conclusions as to the events of that evening, which were based on the evidence contained in the materials I am providing to you, were challenged publicly by Mr. Ravnsborg prior to entering into his plea agreement. In doing so, Mr. Ravnsborg, while still serving as the attorney general, made a number of assertions that disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation. On behalf of all the law enforcement personnel involved in this investigation, I categorically reject Mr. Ravnsborg’s characterizations.

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 2nd Degree Manslaughter. The prosecution team was well aware of that position. The South Dakota Highway Patrol stood ready and willing to provide expert testimony regarding the crash and the facts of this investigation at trial, a position that was also made clear to the prosecutor.

Politics never entered into this investigation. The law enforcement officers and professionals involved in this investigation, which also included experienced personnel from North Dakota, Minnesota, and a crash reconstruction expert from Wyoming, did so with the highest levels of professionalism. As you will see from the investigation materials, which are summarized below, our team investigated all leads, thoroughly collected evidence, spoke to dozens of possible witnesses, and examined all possibilities. This investigation was done correctly by all involved.

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