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DPS Secretary Price: “Ravnsborg Should Have Been Charged with 2nd Degree Manslaughter”

But enough about Jason’s poorly-aged comments and need to diet—here’s some deadly serious news.

Governor Kristi Noem announced today that the Department of Public Safety released to Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) the complete investigation file on the September 12, 2020, car crash in which distracted driver Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg killed pedestrian Joseph Boever.

As a quick side note, I contend the release of this investigation file to a citizen not employed in law enforcement makes this file a public record. Quick, someone call DPS and Speaker Gosch and make a formal open records request so we all can read along!

Governor Noem has not published the entire investigation file, but she has published the cover letter DPS Secretary Craig Price sent to Speaker Gosch and cc’ed to A.G. Ravnsborg. In this letter, Secretary Price says Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter:

In my opinion as a 24-year law enforcement officer, and in the opinion of the higly 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 [Secretary of Public Safety Craig Price, letter to Speaker Spencer Gosch, 2021.09.01].

Secretary Price also says Ravnsborg mischaracterized the conclusions of the investigators and “disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies” who investigated him:

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 publicly 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 [Price to Gosch, 2021.09.01].

I get the impression that when Secretary Price says “assertions,” he really means “lies.”

Ravnsborg has been convicted of crimes—not manslaughter, merely traffic violations—that Speaker Gosch felt sufficient to justify the original articles of impeachment proposed on February 23 but later suspended. But those February articles of impeachment also cited “actions unbecoming the Attorney General” following his killing of Boever. The phrasing of the disparagement accusation seems tuned specifically toward the latter basis for impeachment. Disparaging the work and reputation of law enforcement agencies “while still serving publicly as the attorney general” could easily be translated as “conduct unbecoming the Attorney General” or, to use a phrase in the state constitution’s language authorizing impeachment (Article 16 Section 3), “malfeasance in office”.

But the big impeachment push is Secretary Price’s statement about manslaughter.

A 24-year South Dakota cop says Ravnsborg should have been charged with second-degree manslaughter. That veteran cop, now Secretary of Public Safety, says the evidence supported that charge and his officers were ready to go to court and say so. That veteran cop turned Secretary of Public Safety says the prosecutors knew of his assessment of the evidence and knew of his officers’ readiness to testify. Yet those prosecutors, who were led by Jason Ravnsborg’s law school classmate Emily Sovell, rejected that position, went on the record denying that the evidence supported a manslaughter charge, and instead charged killer Jason Ravnsborg with three traffic misdemeanors.

Secretary Price is saying that the prosecutors did not seek justice for Joseph Boever’s death. Secretary Price is saying Ravnsborg still has an enormous debt to pay. Secretary Price is telling Speaker Gosch that it is up to the Legislature to get Ravnsborg to pay some of that debt by impeaching him and removing him from the Attorney General’s office.

26 Comments

  1. grudznick 2021-09-01

    Mr. Price seems like a reasonable fellow, indeed.

  2. Tom Lawrence 2021-09-01

    Nice timely work, sir.
    Secretary Price is saying what many people thought — the prosecutor gave Ravnsborg a break. The former law school classmate had other, more severe options and was told that by people who have handled such incidents before. Why did she ignore them?
    Small edit: Insert the word Ravnsborg — or the attorney general or the AG or the serial traffic offender — before the word “mischaracterized.”
    Secretary Price also says mischaracterized the conclusions of the investigators and “disparaged the work and reputation of the law enforcement agencies” who investigated him:

  3. grudznick 2021-09-01

    Stop lashing out at your nemesis, Mr. PP, because he does things to irk you, Mr. H, and focus on the issues at hand. Mr. Price, perhaps really the top law enforcement official in the state given that Mr. Ravnsborg is rather compromised, is pointing fingers at the AG for being very, very naughty and maybe a bigger law breaker than most.

  4. Steve Simons 2021-09-01

    Any bets on whether Speaker Gosch punts on this one ? Even though he usually carries Noem’s water bucket, I am betting he will wimp out and do nothing.

  5. O 2021-09-01

    Nothing like hand wringing AFTER the fact to establish your accountability cred and not have to worry about actually punishing or doing something. Hopefully all this helps the family win their wrongful death suit.

  6. Jake 2021-09-01

    Mr. Simons, I tend to agree and wouldn’t be surprised if this GOP legislature just went thru the ‘motions’ of impeachment and failed because “You know, this isn’t going to look good to the voters”! It’s all abbout power retention for the GOP.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-09-01

    Well…its a little late in the game for all this Republican hair pulling and chest beating. Ravensborg walked out of the court room with a couple of minor traffic misdemeanors and through the connivance of his political co horts is still serving as Chief Law Enforcement Officer….I think iots called Mendacity.

  8. Porter Lansing 2021-09-01

    What else would anyone well versed in SD “justice” expect to happen?

    I once expounded on the situation involving a blackmailing Watertown cop and why I left for good, never to return.

    Everyone on this blog has a anecdote about malfeasance by someone in the law enforcement community.

    Corruption is imbedded and justice is hiding.

  9. Guy 2021-09-01

    I have just one question for everyone commenting on this forum, including Cory. Do you believe Governor Kristi Noem is exposing all of this information on Ravnsborg with the purest intentions and “all for justice”?

  10. grudznick 2021-09-01

    Mr. Simons, you are righter than right.

    Mr. Lansing, you also are righter than right, for even grudznick has some bones to pick with a couple of law enforcement fellows, although I believe they were libbie cops.

    I would, however, really like to hear you expound again about the Watertown cop blackmailing you all the way out of the Great State of South Dakota. This wasn’t the story I seem to recall parts of about the burned pork chop, was it?

  11. John Dale 2021-09-01

    I’d like to see this much outrage over election integrity.

  12. DaveFN 2021-09-01

    Is the Noem/Price outrage over what Ravnsborg did, or over the potential damage it might do to the Republican party in SD if left unchecked? We gotta ask.

  13. Guy 2021-09-01

    DaveFN, I just asked that question. Do you believe Kristi is releasing this news on Ravnsborg with the purest intentions to seek “true justice”? Well, I don’t. I think most of us know that when Kristi does or says anything…there is definitely a well-thought out political calculation involved.

  14. CraigSk 2021-09-01

    Impeachment is necessary, but unlikely. I wonder how the sheriff that loaned the AG his car still has a job after he did not find the body that evening. He also didn’t even see the still glowing flashlight Bieber was holding and the DCI officers state it was still glowing the next morning when they found it. He also did not notice Boever’s glasses in the front seat of the AG car. Why is this law officer not being charge with complete negligence of duty. Sounds like he was playing the “Good ole Boy system” and was trying to get some brownie points from the AG that night by loaning him his car and not doing any investigation. Why is this not part of the story? How does he get a free pass?

  15. buckobear 2021-09-02

    … and it’s time for one of our senators to recommend that “promotion” to colonel be red-lined.

  16. ds 2021-09-02

    Mr Dale tries to shift the discussion over to “outrage over election integrity”. No need for that discussion here… just read the RC Journal and get a load of BS with the promotion of the whacko Pillow guy and the soon to be defrocked lawyer from outer space…Brought to you by that SD district 30 state senator repeatedly given full editorial privileges:
    https://rapidcityjournal.com/eedition/page-a6/page_78b09e36-4c1c-5771-b642-2f849958008c.html

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-02

    That’s not lashing out, Grudz. That’s me, as a participant in economic and journalistic competition, pointing out that my primary competitor offers an inferior, less informative, less ambitious product.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-02

    Guy, Noem’s motives matter, and we can prosecute her motives elsewhere, but her motives don’t change the hard fact that we now have a veteran cop and supervisor of the HP saying that the evidence supported a manslaughter charge, that prosecutors ignored that evidence, and that the sitting Attorney General mischaracterized that evidence.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-02

    Right on, ds. It would be just as easy to distract from the issue here by crying, “I wish people would show this same level of outrage over climate change and abortion rights and corruption in the previous Administration and misogyny and white supremacy.” and even though we, unlike John Dale, would be raising valid concerns, we would still be off topic. You don’t go to a manslaughter trial or an impeachment hearing and start crying about separate policy issues; that distraction isn’t appropriate in a blog post, either. We have separate blog posts for those valid issues.

  20. mike from iowa 2021-09-02

    Rabbit Hole Refugee should be charged with obstruction every time he hijacks or attempts to hijack a thread.

  21. O 2021-09-02

    Guy, I would answer your question this way: I believe this is all political calculation on two levels. 1) These facts will come out, so her being in front of it gives her the higher ground on looking for justice. 2) Taking this stand and getting Ravnsborg out (I presume this is all heading for a legislative removal by impeachment – or resignation in that light) takes away a weak link in the next election cycle.

    This seems to be looking for justice with a political upside. That is why I disagree with Jake, if the Governor and the Legislature fail to remove the AG, then they risk voter backlash. (probably not enough to elect a Democrat, but primary challenges). Being anti-Ravnsberg is an easy “good” to rise to.

  22. O 2021-09-02

    Mr. Dale, as soon as their is election fraud, then you will see election integrity outrage. It is also why you do not see unicorn outrage here; we concern ourselves with and discuss the real world here.

  23. P Meyer 2021-09-02

    Double jeopardy issue now would exist? Sadly, the judicial system in the State of South Dakota leaves a ton to be considered! Now…. I’d suggest he have a ankle bracelet so all can know which roads can be walked along?? “We, with the ‘blessing of the electorate’, can do ANYTHING our little (and I mean minuscule) heart desires in the State of South Dakota? It’s time to reassess the laws and how they are enforced… for the privileged, or FOR ALL?

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