The U.S. Army Reserve has halted the promotion of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg to colonel pending the outcome of a criminal case in which Ravnsborg is accused of fatally striking a man with his car, authorities said.
Ravnsborg said on social media last month that he was running for promotion in the U.S. Army Reserve from lieutenant colonel to colonel. But an Army Reserve official confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday that Ravnsborg’s potential promotion was being delayed until his criminal case was concluded.
A promotion to the rank of colonel in the Army Reserve is usually presented to the United States Senate for confirmation.
“Army Reserve leaders are aware of the tragic incident that allegedly involved LTC Jason Ravnsborg and are following applicable military regulations and policies,” said Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake, Porte – speech of the US Army Reserve. “Soldiers awaiting investigation by civilian law enforcement and / or civilian criminal prosecution authorities may still be eligible for selection for promotion, but Army Reserve retains discretion. regarding actual promotion. In this case, the Army Reserve Chiefs concerned will follow the ongoing civil procedures and make other decisions in due course.
The military can suspend promotions if a criminal case in federal or state court is pending against the officer, according to federal law.
Ravnsborg, a senior South Dakota law enforcement official and Republican, is accused of fatally striking Joseph Boever, 55, who was on the shoulder of a rural highway on the night of September 12, 2020 , the authorities said.
Ravnsborg faces three misdemeanor charges: reckless driving, getting out of his lane and operating a motor vehicle on the phone, although prosecutors said he was not on the phone during the crash. Ravnsborg was using it about a minute before his Ford Taurus had a fatal impact, prosecutors said. Each charge carries up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $ 500, officials said.
The case has angered some law enforcement groups and Republican Governor Kristi Noem, who have called on Ravnsborg to step down. Ravnsborg rebuked calls to resign.
An appeal to Ravnsborg lawyer Timothy Rensch was not returned on Tuesday. A woman who picked up the phone at the Ravnsborg office directed the call to Michael Deaver. Deaver identified himself as Ravnsborg’s spokesperson for matters relating to his criminal case.
Deaver downplayed the army’s position on Ravnsborg’s possible promotion. Deaver said that instead Ravnsborg is just going through the promotion process. Deaver also noted that Ravnsborg’s charges are misdemeanors.
“The military certainly knew about all of this and still” offered him for promotion, Deaver said. “And now he’s going to go through the cycles, as he should.”
When asked if Ravnsborg was convinced he would eventually be promoted to colonel, Deaver replied, “Yes.
Ravnsborg did not appear last month at his first court hearing in Pierre, South Dakota. His defense attorney, Rensch, pleaded not guilty – a defendant’s customary plea in an initial hearing – on behalf of Ravnsborg.
Investigators examined the circumstances of the crash for five months, prosecutors said. They acknowledged that there were still questions but were unable to lay more serious criminal charges, such as driving homicide or manslaughter, officials said.
Ravnsborg was elected for his first term in 2018.
He first told authorities he believed he struck a deer or other large animal on his way home to Pierre after a Republican fundraiser. Ravnsborg said he searched the unlit area with a cell phone flashlight and only realized he had killed a man the next day when he returned to the scene. accident in the United States 14., officials said.