Less than two months before he killed Joe Boever.
Jacob Newton digs through the Ravnsborg investigation file and finds that on Thursday, July 23, 2020, and Sunday, September 6, 2020, Ravnsborg nearly crashed his car into two different police vehicles and got off with warnings both times. Newton posts narratives from South Dakota Highway Patrolman Nathan Moore and Huron Police Officer Tanner Dornacher; I highlight key points in yellow:
Notice that these incidents both took place after sundown, at 10:05 p.m. in July in Pierre and 8:45 p.m. in September in Huron. One would expect a law enforcement officer to be extra attentive when driving after sundown.
Note also that these evening stops happened in two different vehicles, each with regular plates, but each allegedly a state vehicle. How many state vehicles does one Attorney General need, and how much business does the Attorney General need to conduct in those state vehicles after hours?
In the July incident, Ravnsborg put Trooper Moore (and anyone else who might have been out at 10:05 p.m. on a Thirsty Thursday) at risk of a head-on collision on the main drag in Pierre.
In the July 23 Pierre stop, Ravnsborg claimed he didn’t see Trooper Moore’s oncoming patrol car and wasn’t aware that he’d almost plowed into the trooper’s car with his SUV. To not see a well-known curve next to the Ramkota on the primary highway through the state capital requires complete inattention.
Ravnsborg appears to have exhibited similar inattention in his September 6 near-miss in Huron. On the Sunday evening of the State Fair, Ravnsborg pulled out of a two-way stop on the old highway south of the railroad tracks, a road that leads to one of the major fair campgrounds, into the oncoming and uncontrolled traffic on the main street leading to the western entrances to the fairgrounds, forcing Officer Dornacher to defend against a crash.
After executing this dangerous maneuver, Ravnsborg creates more peril by pulling over for the flashing lights behind him on the left side of the westbound portion of divided Highway 14, parking that Officer Dornacher recognized as “weird” and dangerous.
And when Officer Dornacher approached, the first thing Ravnsborg offered the officer was not his license and registration; it was his badge. As in many previous traffic stops, Ravnsborg’s first impulse was to identify himself as Attorney General.
To emphasize his arrogant cluelessness, even after the Huron policeman made clear he was letting Ravnsborg off with a verbal warning, Ravnsborg tried litigating his case, saying he thought the intersection was a four-way stop, not a two-way stop. The sight of a police car proceeding northbound toward the intersection at normal speed, showing no sign of stopping, would signal to any driver looking both ways that, stop sign or no, the driver ought to wait a moment to avoid a crash. But again, Ravnsborg’s eyes appear to have been doing something other than paying attention to the signs and other people on the road.
And when Officer Dornacher pointed out Ravnsborg’s “weird” parking along the median and said he would stay parked behind him with his flashers on to make sure Ravnsborg didn’t cause an accident as he pulled out, Ravnsborg seemed to mouth back with an odd question about whether Highway 14 has two westbound lanes and whether he could drive in either lane.
We civilian drivers understand that, when we’ve clearly screwed up and the cop who sees us graces us with a mere warning, the proper and complete response is, “Thank you, officer. I’m sorry, officer. Won’t happen again, officer.” But Ravnsborg’s response is to flash his badge, make excuses, and give the officer lip. Apparently toting an Attorney General’s badge entitles one to think that even a verbal warning is too much of a consequence for one’s Highness. If Ravnsborg hadn’t parked in such a weird spot on the main highway inviting bigger traffic disasters and the high call volume of the last night for State Fair-goers to live it up around Huron, Officer Dornacher might well have responded to Ravnsborg’s lip by rescinding his grace and giving Ravnsborg a ticket.
But Officer Dornacher didn’t… and six nights later, 68 miles down Highway 14, Ravnsborg’s inattention to the road led to a far worse traffic incident, a fatal crash whose proper consequences he is still fighting to escape.
Jason, if there’s one thing you’re good at—and I’m not convinced there is—it’s not driving.