Senior South Dakota official lied and abused his power after killing a pedestrian, impeachment hearing told

A senior South Dakota elected official lied to investigators and abused the power of his office after he struck and killed a pedestrian, his impeachment trial heard.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who is a Republican, was driving home from a GOP fundraiser in September 2020 when he fatally hit 55-year-old Joseph Boeyer.

Investigators in the case determined that the victim’s face had come through the windscreen of the vehicle as his glasses were found inside it.

But the politician called 911 and told police that he thought he had hit “something” that may have been a deer or another animal.

He claimed that neither he nor the county sheriff realised he had hit the victim until he returned to the scene the following day.

Mr Ravnsborg faces two charges in the state’s first-ever impeachment trial that could see him kicked out of office. State senators could also vote on whether he should also be barred from holding future office

“He absolutely saw the man that he struck in the moments after,” said Alexis Tracy, the Clay County state’s attorney who is leading the prosecution.

The trial was told that Mr Ravnsborg had allegedly given “misstatements and outright lies” to investigators and had used his position “to set the tone and gain influence” in the wake of the accident.

Mr Ravnsborg has denied any wrongdoing and last year pleaded no contest to a pair of traffic misdemeanors, including making an illegal lane change and using a phone while driving. His only punishment was a fine levied by the judge.

Last September he agreed to an undisclosed settlement with the victim’s widow.

Mr Ravnsborg has framed his impeachment as political retribution by the state’s Republican governor Kristi Noem, who he says wants him out because he investigated her for ethics complaints.

The state’s Senate consists of 32 Republican members and three Democrats, and it will take 24 members to convict Mr Ravnsborg on either of two articles of impeachment: committing a crime that caused death, and malfeasance.


Douglas Mateo

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