The House Select Committee on Investigation is expected to publicly release dozens of documents the committee explored during their impeachment investigation the last three months.
The documents come on the heels of Monday’s decision by the committee not to recommend the House of Representatives impeach South Dakota’s attorney general for his role in a fatal September 2020 crash, according to a 22-page report.
Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed Joe Boever while he was driving from a political event the night of Sept. 12, 2020.
Earlier: What we know about the year-long saga surrounding AG Jason Ravnsborg’s role in fatal crash
Nearly a year passed before he faced charges stemming from the crash, and ultimately he accepted a plea deal and was convicted of a pair of minor driving infractions that did not amount to criminal culpability for the death of the 55-year-old Hyde County man.
Led by House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, the nine-member House Select Committee on Investigation spent hours behind closed doors, starting in December and in subsequent meetings in January. The redacted information from 60 of 65 materials available to them related to the September 2020 crash.
Earlier: Autopsy photos, cellphone forensics won’t be part of Attorney General’s impeachment record
Those materials include investigation reports, video footage of interviews and interrogations with the attorney general and autopsy photographs.
Beyond a 13-page report explaining what details of the crash investigation the public will never have access to, nothing has been released publicly since, except for whatever has been publicly discussed during impeachment proceedings.
Here’s a closer look at what we’re learning from these documents as they’re released:
Note: Refresh this page throughout the evening for updates:
Earlier: Jason Ravnsborg should not be impeached, investigation committee says
- Ravnsborg wanted to know what info cellphone forensics could find
- Witness didn’t see Boever carrying flashlight
- 3 people witnessed a man walking on the side of the road before the crash
- Friend of Ravnsborg had been told Ravnsborg was the one who died in the crash
- Blood splatter found on Taurus
- Toxicology: Ravnsborg had no drugs or alcohol in his system
- Victor Nemic, Boever’s relative, came looking for him the day after the crash
- Ravnsborg texted Bormann and Natvig ‘I am OK but my car is not’ minutes after 911 call
- Highmore sheriff saw Boever’s truck on the night of the accident
- Boever suffered “severe trauma” from impact
- Various samples collected from crash site including plastic fork
Ravnsborg wanted to know what info cellphone forensics could find
On Sept. 15, 2020, the attorney general wanted to know what cellphone data would be discoverable to law enforcement examining his phones and turned to agents working under him in the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, which had handed off the case to North Dakota investigators due to the conflict of interest.
According to then-DCI agent Brent Gromer, Ravnsborg asked him what level of data cellphone application usage, emails and other device activity or inactivity would be retrievable by investigators. MORE: Read documents
Witness didn’t see Boever carrying flashlight
Detectives spoke with a witness who said she’d seen Boever’s white truck and an individual walking in the shoulder toward Highmore around 10:20 p.m. Sept. 12, 2020. The person she saw walking was in the shoulder and “the white line was between (the witness) and the individual.” She didn’t notice if they had been carrying a flashlight.
The witness also stated in the interview with investigators that she didn’t have her high beams on “but could still see him over there.” More: Read document
3 people witnessed a man walking on the side of the road before the crash
A husband, wife and their daughter on their way to Pierre from Huron told North Dakota investigators they observed a man walking along the edge of the grass on Highway 14. They spotted him as they entered the west edge of Highmore, stating to authorities he was walking westbound on the northside of of the highway. The male was wearing jeans, a cap and a blue sweatshirt, the witnesses stated.
That was between 9:55 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., the witnesses told police. The husband turned his high-beam headlights on shortly before seeing the male, and visibility at the time was normal.
The daughter, 23, told police she saw the male closer to the grass in the ditch than fog line that night. She told police she believed the man was about half a mile east from a white pickup in the ditch. More: Read document
Friend of Ravnsborg had been told Ravnsborg was the one who died in the crash
In interviews with people who’d spoken to Ravnsborg in the immediate aftermath of the crash, Kristie Fiegen, the vice chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission, had been told by an employee of the Public Utilities Commission that Ravnsborg had died in the crash. She called Ravnsborg’s cell and spoke with him. She and her family put him on speaker phone and prayed for him.
Fiegen and Ravnsborg had grown close over the 2018 campaign trail.
Fiegen also told investigators that they had spoken on another occasion after the crash, where at the time she felt that she had to keep the information confidential because her “husband did not keep things to himself and had he known any details about the crash, he would have told others.”
Later when Ravnsborg sent out a press release about the crash, all information he had told Fiegen had been included. More: Read document
Blood splatter found on Taurus
Investigators found human blood along the passenger side of the vehicle, including the rear passenger side tire, on the passenger side kick paneling and the underside of the rear bumper. The vehicle’s headlights were also deemed to be illuminated at the time of the crash.
Toxicology: Ravnsborg had no drugs or alcohol in his system
According to a report filed by North Dakota investigator Arnie Rummel, a toxicology test found Ravnsborg had no drugs or alcohol in his system when the blood sample was taken on September 13, 2020, the day after the crash.
Victor Nemic, Boever’s relative, came looking for him the day after the crash
Boever’s neighbor told North Dakota law enforcement that on Sept. 13, she had just returned from a weekend camping trip when Nemic was spotted at Boever’s home. Nemic asked the neighbor if she knew where Boever was, and she told Nemic she did not. Boever and the neighbor would check on each other frequently, her testimony to law enforcement states.
At one point, a month and a half prior to the crash, the neighbor intervened when Boever “nearly drank himself to death,” her testimony states. She told police Boever was on medications for bipolar disorder, alcohol, ADHD and diabetes.
Part of Ravnsborg’s initial defense was to question the mental state of Boever at the time of the crash, including whether Boever had been suicidal. More: Read document
Ravnsborg texted Bormann and Natvig ‘I am OK but my car is not’ minutes after 911 call
According to a cell phone exam from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ravnsborg texted a photo of the car crash in a group message to AG chief of staff Tim Bormann and DCI director Dave Natvig at 10:33 p.m., the night of the crash. That was 9 minutes after he called 911, at 10:24 p.m. One of the messages read «I am OK but my car is not.»
After Ravnsborg texted Bormann and Natvig at 10:33 p.m. a photo of his damaged car, Natvig replied, “Oh (expletive) … did the deer die instantly? Are you sure you’re OK?” at 10:53 p.m, according to released cell phone exam documents from North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Ravnsborg responded with an audio clip at 10:53 p.m.: “I was about a mile west of Highmore and I hit something in the road it didn’t show any blood or anything in the car but it smashed the hell out of it.”
Released cell phone exams from North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation from Oct. 2020 show Ravnsborg made “several outgoing phone calls” to Natvig, Bormann, and his father, Richard Ravnsborg, during the timeframe between leaving the accident and returning to Pierre the night of the car crash. Other activity during that time was instant messages between Ravnsborg, Bormann and Natvig. More: Read document
Highmore sheriff saw Boever’s truck on the night of the accident
After loaning Ravnsborg his personal vehicle on the night of Sept. 12, Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek had to pull over Ravnsborg to get the keys to the attorney general’s Ford Taurus so that it could be towed. It was then that he noticed Boever’s white pickup on the side of the road.
The truck was unoccupied, and Volek called Harlan Reid, the registered owner. Reid told Volek that he has sold the truck to Joseph Boever. Both Reid and Boever were known to Volek.
Among the evidence gathered at the scene was an illuminated flashlight, that is described as “small.” More: Read document
Boever suffered “severe trauma” from impact
North Dakota Special Agent Joe Arenz arrived at the accident scene at approximately 4 p.m. on Sept. 13. Arenz was one of several North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents called to assist the investigation. Arenz described seeing Joe Boever’s body on the side of Highway 14. The injuries were consistent with a violent collision. Boever’s right leg had been amputated below the knee, he had suffered “substantial trauma” to his body and face. Boever’s left leg had been bent to the extent his left foot was next to the left side of his face. More: Read document
Various samples collected from crash site including plastic fork
Various samples were taken from the crash site, including the spots on the highway as well as swabs on Ravnsborg’s car. A plastic fork was collected with red staining on it found on the shoulder of the highway. It was collected as “broken plastic fork with possible blood,” but it didn’t meet the lab’s minimum threshold for amplification, according to the report, though it was presumed positive for human blood. In an email between the Hyde County Prosecution and the ND investigators, it was deemed that the fork and the substance on it were important and they requested it to be tested. More: Read document
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: New documents on Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s crash released