Legal Law

South Dakota AG Reaches Settlement With His Victim’s Family

Jason Ravnsborg, the only sitting state attorney general to kill a man — that we know of — has reached an undisclosed settlement with the family of the man Ravnsborg killed the night the AG scrolled his phone to read conservative news sites while driving home in the dark from a bar/restaurant where local Republicans had raffled off a handgun with “Trump” engraved on the handle. That sounds made up, but that’s what actually happened.

Ravnsborg put his phone down moments before he hit the man with such force that the dead man’s glasses were found inside Ravnsborg’s car. Nonetheless, Ravnsborg dismissed it as a deer and kept driving home that night.

But this sort of dangerous and deadly behavior has consequences! To wit, the judge fined Ravnsborg $1,000 for the incident. At least he learned his lesson. No, wait, he was pulled over — for the seventh time in seven years — driving 57 in a 35 zone just days before finalizing his plea deal.

And while it’s encouraging to see the family receive an agreeable settlement from this nightmare of a case, it’s maddening to see how it’s getting reported. From the Associated Press:

“Man who died after being struck by a car driven by…” That’s a lot of words for “killed by.”

And there’s no reason for this mealy-mouthed nonsense either. This isn’t a freak accident or anything. He’s pleaded guilty to killing the guy because he was scrolling his phone when he should’ve been driving. Guilty pleas may not be the end of the inquiry in a criminal justice system that relies on overcharging and unsophisticated and often unrepresented defendants who can be bullied into accepting lesser charges — Ravnsborg was charged with misdemeanors and he’s the ATTORNEY GENERAL. The AP can go ahead and accept that guilty plea on its face.

But this is where we are. With the media bending over backward to nerf the facts of the case to make sure the careless driver with a long rap sheet of moving violations is maximally sheltered from a direct description of his actions and their consequences.

Folks wonder how Ravnsborg has kept his job as the chief law enforcement officer of the state amidst this — not just for the death, but the “above the law” record of past violations, and the mockery of the state’s judicial system his prosecution turned into. Well, some of it falls on outlets overeager to recast the case as passively as possible.

Earlier: South Dakota’s Actual Law Enforcement Peeved With AG’s Slap On The Wrist
State AG Killed A Guy… Judge Fines Him $1,000.
State AG Who Killed A Pedestrian Suggests It Was Suicide As Opposed To His Scrolling The Internet While Driving
State Attorney General Told Officers He’d Hit A Deer… In Reality, A Man Is Now Dead
State AG Killed A Man And Told Cops He’d Hit A Deer, Will Only Face Misdemeanor Charges
Dead Man’s Glasses Found INSIDE South Dakota AG’s Car
South Dakota AG Is Going To Keep Driving Dangerously Until He Kills Someone… Again


HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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