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S.D. Attorney General Impeached After He Hit, Killed Man with His Car and Initially Said He'd Struck a Deer

People logo People 6/22/2022 Virginia Chamlee

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg © Provided by People Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has been impeached and removed from office following a 2020 incident in which he struck and killed a pedestrian with his car.

On Tuesday, the state's Senate voted in favor of convicting Ravnsborg on two articles of impeachment — crimes causing death and malfeasance in office — after the state's House of Representatives passed the articles earlier this year.

The vote' which bans Ravnsborg from ever running for office again in the state, makes him the first South Dakota official to be impeached and removed from office as a result, The Washington Post reports.

The vote to convict Ravnsborg, a Republican, came nearly two years after he called 911 on a Saturday evening in Sept. 2020, reporting that he'd struck a deer on a dark rural highway.

The body of Joe Boever, 55, was discovered the following morning after Ravnsborg returned to the scene, with the South Dakota Highway Patrol confirming the death in a news release.

Several of Ravnsborg's colleagues have said they don't believe his story from that night adds up.

"There's no question that was a lie," Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck told reporters Tuesday, per the Associated Press. "This person ran down an innocent South Dakotan."

RELATED: S.D. Attorney General Allegedly Kills Pedestrian in Fatal Car Crash, Believing He Hit a Deer

The accident occurred about 10:30 p.m., South Dakota Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price said at a news conference that Sunday, while Gov. Kristi Noem announced Ravnsborg's involvement in the fatal crash.

Ravnsborg, 46, was traveling alone in his Ford Taurus at the time of the accident on U.S. Highway 14, west of Highmore, heading home from a political function. He was not injured, his chief of staff Tim Bormann told the Argus Leader at the time.

An investigation later determined that Ravnsborg had been using his phone at some point during his drive that night, but not at the time of the crash. They also determined his vehicle was outside the lane of travel at the time of impact, USA Today reports.

Ravnsborg avoided felony charges when he was charged with three misdemeanors last year: careless driving, operating a vehicle while using a mobile device and driving out of his lane, the Associated Press reported.

CNN reports that one of the charges was dismissed, with Ravnsborg ultimately ordered to pay a $500 fine for each of the other two misdemeanors. He was not required to serve any jail time.

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Deputy Hyde County State's Attorney Emily Sovell said that there were not enough provable facts to warrant a stronger felony charge like vehicular manslaughter or homicide, NBC News reported.

"Recklessness is an extremely high burden for us to establish and in this case we don't have it," said Beadle County State's Attorney Michael Moore, who assisted in the case, the Argus Leader reported. "I don't feel good about it, but it's the right decision."

"There was a very, very thorough investigation conducted for every step that was taken by him in the hours preceding and nothing was indicative of him being under the influence of any alcohol or drugs," Sovell said.

Gov. Noem will pick a replacement to serve the remainder of Ravnsborg's term, with an election for the seat set to be held in November.

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