Army Reserve the leaders suspended the promotion to full colonel of the South Dakota attorney general while awaiting the result of the accusations that he hit and killed a man with his car while he was distracted behind the wheel.
Jason Ravnsborg, a reserve transport officer, faced bipartisan pleas for his resignation after the Sept. 12 night car accident that struck and killed Joseph Boever, 55, who Ravnsborg found dead in a ditch the next day.
Ravnsborg, 44, announced on Facebook last month that he was being promoted and changed his profile photo to his patent badge. The announcement raised eyebrows because Ravnsborg still faces three counts of misdemeanor related to the controversial accident.
“The Army Reserve leadership is aware of the tragic incident allegedly involving LTC Jason Ravnsborg and is following applicable Army regulations and policies,” said Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake, Army Reserve spokesman, by email.
“Soldiers pending investigation by civilian police authorities and / or civil criminal prosecutions may still be eligible for selection for promotion, but the Army Reserve maintains discretion as to the actual promotion,” added Flake. “In this case, the relevant leaders of the Army Reserve will monitor ongoing civil procedures and make other decisions at the appropriate time.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem asked Ravnsborg’s resignation in February, after charges were brought against him. State officials released police interviews and documents related to the investigation, but some were later removed due to a judge order.
Ravnsborg’s office said in a demonstration that the accident occurred after he attended a fundraising event on September 12. He said he hadn’t drunk and started driving home around 9 pm.
After passing through the city of Highmore, he collided with what he “believed to be a large animal,” said Ravnsborg. After assessing the damage to the vehicle, he said he could not find any clues as to what he hit and only saw the pieces of his vehicle, which was later photographed by the researchers.
Ravnsborg called 911 and reported the accident that night, according to a recording that was released. A county sheriff stepped in and filled out the necessary paperwork. The next morning, Ravnsborg and his chief of staff returned to the scene.
“While walking along the side of the road, I discovered Mr. Boever’s body in the grass near the road,” said Ravnsborg.
Boever was clearly dead and the two men drove to the sheriff’s house to report the body, Ravnsborg added. Since then, Boever’s relatives have cast doubt in the Ravnsborg narrative.
During an interview on September 30, detectives accused Ravnsborg of using his phone while driving and raised evidence that indicated that Ravnsborg was on the shoulder when he hit Boever.
Detectives also pointed out that Boever’s reading glasses were found inside Ravnsborg’s car. Detectives questioned why Ravnsborg didn’t see those glasses resting on the floor on the passenger side when he searched the glove compartment for his vehicle records.
“We know that his face appeared on your windshield”, said an officer from the North Dakota Criminal Investigation Department. “We know these are his glasses. They were in your head, because they were seen in your head [by a witness]. They ended up in your car. “
Ravnsborg denied having seen the glasses inside his car or a flashlight that Boever was carrying at the time of his death. The flashlight was still on when the police found it, said detectives, who described it as “like a beacon” in the “darkness” of the night.
“I didn’t see a flashlight,” replied Ravnsborg. “I didn’t know I was a man until the next day.”
Ravnsborg pleaded not guilty and his next hearing is scheduled for May 12.