Pierre, SD – The top law enforcement officer in South Dakota made a plea deal with prosecutors a day before his trial for fatally striking 55-year-old Joseph Boever with his truck in February.
The tragic incident occurred on Sept. 12, 2020 while Boever was walking down the side of U.S. Highway 14 carrying a light, according to the crash report.
He had crashed his truck into a ditch on the side of that road earlier in the evening and gotten a ride home from his cousin, NBC News reported.
Later that night, Boever was walking back to his truck to get something when he was fatally struck by a truck driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Ravnsborg contacted the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office and told them he thought he had hit a deer, according to NBC News.
He said that he and the sheriff walked around and looked on the side of the road together but did not find anything, The Washington Post reported.
The attorney general returned to the crash scene with his chief of staff in the morning and they found Boever’s dead body on the side of the road.
The crash report said that Ravnsborg was “distracted” when his car went onto the shoulder of the highway and hit the pedestrian at 67 mph, NBC News reported.
The state released videos of two three-hour-long interviews that detectives conducted with Ravnsborg after Boever’s body was found.
The video showed that detectives had told the attorney general that Boever’s reading glasses had been found inside his 2011 Ford Taurus, The Washington Post reported.
“They’re Joe’s glasses, so that means his face came through your windshield,” a detective told Ravnsborg in the video.
The attorney general continued to deny that he had any idea he’d struck a person.
“His face was in your windshield, Jason,” the detective said. “Think about that.”
Ravnsborg said in the video he hadn’t seen the broken glasses in the car or on Boever, The Washington Post reported.
He claimed he hadn’t seen “anything” that night, but detectives argued that Boever had been carrying a big flashlight.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, called for the attorney general’s resignation after the details of the interviews with the detectives became public, the Argus Leader reported.
Later in the day, South Dakota House GOP members convened a closed-door meeting.
Afterwards, they announced that two articles of impeachment had been filed against Ravnsborg by his own party, the Argus Leader reported.
But in March, South Dakota’s House of Representatives voted to put the brakes on the impeachment process until after the criminal investigation and trial had played itself out, CBS News reported.
The attorney general was charged with operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile device, driving outside a lane, and careless driving on Feb. 19 in connection with the crash.
Ravnsborg faced a maximum of 90 days in jail and $1,500 in damages, The Washington Post reported.
But on Wednesday, a day before his trial was scheduled to begin, Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore told the Associated Press that “there won’t be a trial and there will be a plea entered.”
Moore refused to discuss the details of the plea agreement but said it would be entered on Thursday.
He said he couldn’t share any other details because of the judge’s order that prohibited state officials from discussing the investigation the Associated Press reported.
Boever’s widow has said she planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Ravnsborg.