Calls for the resignation of South Dakota's Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg are mounting after investigators found the glasses of a hit-and-run victim in Mr Ravnsborg's vehicle. He claims he thought he crashed into a deer and didn't know it was a pedestrian until the next morning.
Mr Ravnsborg was charged with three misdemeanour counts last week after the accident leading to the death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever, CNN reported.
New evidence was released on Tuesday night, with investigators now saying that Mr Boever was hit with such force that his face came through the windshield of Mr Ravnsborg's vehicle. He hit and killed Mr Boever on 12 September of last year.
“They’re Joe’s glasses, so that means his face came through your windshield,” one investigator tells Mr Ravnsborg during a filmed interview. The footage was released on Tuesday.
“I did not see those glasses until you showed them to me,” Mr Ravnsborg responded.
"The only way for them to get there is through the windshield," the law enforcement official says. “His face was in your windshield, Jason. Think about that.”
“I did not see him. I did not see anything,” Mr Ravnsborg said. “I did not know it was a human until the next day.”
“You think you had an idea it was something other than a deer, though?" An investigator asked.
“I just believed it was a deer," Mr Ravnsborg said.
Mr Ravnsborg was on his way home from a Republican fundraiser when he hit pedestrian Joseph Boever at around 10:30 pm, according to The New York Post. Investigators of the crash say Mr Ravnsborg was distracted when he swerved into Mr Boever who was walking on the shoulder of the highway.
South Dakota lawmakers have now started an effort to remove Mr Ravnsborg from his office. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem called for his resignation Tuesday, but so far Mr Ravnsborg has resisted.
Two articles of impeachment were filed Tuesday against Mr Ravnsborg, according to toThe Washington Post.
Private Ravnsborg spokesman Mike Deaver told The Argus Leader that he won't resign despite the impeachment push. Mr Deaver said: "At no time has this issue impeded his ability to do the work of the office. Instead, he has handled some of the largest settlements and legislative issues the state has ever been through."
Republican State Representative Will Mortenson, who filed the articles of impeachment, told The Leader : "I do not believe Attorney General Ravnsborg belongs in prison, but I know he does not belong in the Office of the Attorney General anymore."
The articles were cosponsored by the leaders of the two parties in the South Dakota House. Republican Majority Leader Kent Peterson said: “This isn’t about party or politics. It’s about doing the right thing for South Dakota. We must hold our elected leaders to a high standard. In this case, the Attorney General has failed to meet that standard, and we owe it to the people to bring these articles."
Democratic Minority Leader Jamie Smith said: "The Attorney General has lost the confidence of the people of South Dakota, and he should be removed from office for the betterment of the state.”
Mr Ravnsborg, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserves, told detectives: “I did not know until the next day. I did not. No. I’m a military guy. You do not leave people on the battlefield. You do not leave people behind."
The Independent has reached out to Attorney General Ravnsborg for comment.
The full interview between investigators and Mr Ravnsborg can be seen below: