South Dakota House lawmakers passed a resolution to halt the impeachment proceedings against state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, whose criminal trial over his fatal car collision is set to begin this week.
The resolution pulls back on the impeachment effort, stating that lawmakers “may evaluate” if impeachment is “necessary” after a conviction, plea or acquittal.
The House’s decision came in response to state Judge John Brown’s order that South Dakota authorities remove the damning videos of Ravnsborg’s interviews with investigators that had been uploaded online by the state’s Department of Safety (DPS) two weeks ago.
Under the order, the DPS and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) are barred from releasing any more material in the criminal investigation “to prevent the public from having access to information which would be hearsay at a trial of this matter,” Brown wrote.
Ravnsborg, who has rejected Noem and state lawmakers’ calls for his resignation, praised the House’s vote in a statement on Monday.
“The House’s action today will allow the legal system to proceed without further interference and with due process,” he said, per Reuters.
The attorney general’s first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
Several days before Brown’s order on February 25, South Dakota House representatives introduced a bipartisan impeachment resolution against Ravnsborg for “certain crimes or misdemeanors in office” after the attorney general was charged with traffic-related misdemeanors for fatally striking 55-year-old Joe Boever, who was walking along the highway, one night in September.
Ravnsborg claims that he did not know he had hit a person at that time and only found out after he returned to the scene the next morning and found Boever’s body.
However, one of the now-removed videos of investigators’ interviews with Ravnsborg shows the officials confronting the attorney general with their discovery of Boever’s glasses in his car (indicating that the man’s face had hit the windshield), the fact that Boever was walking with his flashlight on and evidence that Ravnsborg was looking at his phone right before the collision.