- South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reported hitting a deer with his car on Saturday night but actually killed a 55-year-old man whose body was not found until the next day.
- The family is now demanding answers about the circumstances of the crash as well as why it took so long to discover and identify the victim’s body.
- While some understand how such an incident could happen in a rural area, others find it unbelievable that he could mistake a human body for an animal. Many are also concerned about the fairness of the investigation and worry Ravnsborg will face little to no consequences since this may not be considered a hit and run.
- Street safety advocates hope that at the very least, this highlights the unique dangers rural roads pose for walkers.
The top law enforcement official in South Dakota is now at the center of a shocking case that is making national headlines.
According to a Monday press release from Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, he was driving home from a GOP fundraiser on Saturday, which he left at around 9:15 p.m. However, during the drive, he hit a large figure in the dark and stopped to check. He said he called 911 to report that he thought he hit a deer and eventually the Hyde County Sheriff came to the scene.
Ravnsborg noted that it was dark out and he could only see that pieces of his vehicle were laying on the road, but he didn’t see what he had hit. He said he used his phone flashlight to look in the nearby ditch but still couldn’t see.
When Sheriff Mike Volek arrived, he also surveyed the scene and filled out the necessary paperwork. Because Ravnsborg’s car was too damaged to drive safely and tow services were well over an hour away, the sheriff took him to his home and offered him his personal vehicle to borrow or the rest of his drive.
The following day, Ravnsborg and his chief of staff went back to the sheriff’s home to return the car. Along the day, they noticed the debris from the previous night near the scene, so they stopped to see if the animal he thought he struck was around.
Instead, they found a man’s body in the grass just off the roadway and said it was apparent that he was deceased. Ravnsborg said he drove to the sheriff’s home to report the discovery. Sheriff Volek allegedly told Ravnsborg that he would handle the investigation and asked him to go home.
The person who was found dead has been identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever. According to his cousins Nick and Victor Nemec, he had left his Ford pickup truck on the side of the highway Saturday morning after hitting a bale of hay.
Victor took him home and promised to give him a lift to retrieve the truck the next morning, but for some reason, Boever decided to return to the truck on foot that when Ravnsborg struck him that night.
The next morning, Victor called his cousin and received no answer so he drove to his home and on the way, he noticed that the truck was surrounded by police cruisers, crime tape, and tarp.
When he didn’t find Boever at home, he called the sheriff’s office to ask if his cousin was involved in a car crash. Deputies reportedly asked Victor to wait for an officer to show up to speak to him. He waited until a deputy finally phoned at 7:30 p.m., telling him to go to a local funeral home to identify his cousin. Boever’s body was identified after 8 p.m. that Sunday night.
Now the family is demanding answers about the circumstances of the case and the amount of time it took to discover and identify the body.
“I believe the state is going to try to cover this up as much as they can,” Victor told the Rapid City Journal. “This state is known for covering up wrongdoing of elected officials all the time.”
“A deer doesn’t look like a human.”
“I don’t know what the truth is, but I have my doubts whether an official 911 call was made after the accident,” he later told NBC News.
The victim’s wife, Jennifer Boever, was also confused by how everything unfolded, telling the outlet KELO, “Why did my husband lie in a ditch for 22 hours?”
“I mean, we have no answers yet. And right now I’m just raw and numb, I just lost the man of my life.”
A lot of people agree with them, finding some circumstances of this incident odd. Others have also pointed to the attorney general’s driving record. According to local reports, he received six traffic tickets for speeding in South Dakota between 2014 and when he was elected to statewide office in 2018. Four of them were for speeding, one was for a seat belt violation, and another was for driving a vehicle without a proper exhaust and muffler system. He also paid for two speeding tickets in Iowa in 1996 and 2003.
However, there has been no mention of the speed he was driving at when he struck Boever, and in his statement, he also stressed that the hadn’t been drinking that night.
Investigation and Concerns
Ravnsborg offered his condolences to the Boever family and said he was “saddened by the tragic nature of these events.” However, he did say he would not answer public questions until the investigation is over.
He said the investigation is being done by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He also said he was fully cooperating, has agreed to a search of his cell phones, provided a blood draw, and gave names of people at the GOP event who could confirm he was not drinking alcohol.
Based on a lot of the social media responses to this story, hitting an animal on rural roads is not unheard of, so some find his story plausible. In fact, in many cases, drivers are usually taught to not stop to help a wounded animal if they suspect it could cause their vehicle to get hit by another driver on the road. Others also said it’s not exactly bizarre that the local sheriff of a rural community would offer broad courteous resources like loaning his personal car, especially to a person like a state attorney general.
Still, many in the community are concerned that because Ravnsborg holds a position of power, he will face little to no reproductions. Some worry that that could be because of potential corruption in this case, but others say the crime may not technically qualify as a hit-and-run. Even if he were somehow charged with one, the penalties for that crime in South Dakota can carry fines as low as $2,000.
So while some are hoping for consequences, street safety advocates hope that at the very least, this case serves as a cautionary tale and highlights the unique dangers of rural road designs. For instance, the highway where this death happened is a rural 2 lane road with no pedestrian infrastructure or streetlights.
The victim’s family told local reporters that a small stretch of the road runs through their small community, and carries speed limits of 45 to 65 miles per hour throughout. According to a 2016 Propublica report, even at the lower end of that range, a pedestrian struck by a car has less than a 50% chance of survival.
Roads like this are not exactly uncommon in rural communities, which is a huge danger for walkers. According to the Federal Highway Administration, about 25% of collisions between drivers and non-drivers occur along rural highways, despite the fact that only 19% of Americans live in rural areas. Because cars on rural highways travel so fast, crashes are far more likely to be fatal.
See what others are saying: (USA Streets Blog) (NPR) (Rapid City Journal)
Celebrities, Journalists, and Politicians Respond to the First Presidential Debate
- After the first 2020 Presidential Debate aired on Tuesday, many took to social media to respond to the broadcast, which was full of interruptions, chaos and shouting.
- CNN‘s Jake Tapper called it a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” He added that it was not even a debate but a disgrace to the country.
- Celebrities like Cardi B also issued live commentary. Cardi B posted several videos yelling at President Donald Trump to stop speaking over former Vice President Joe Biden. Many joined in on her frustrations.
- Because this debate lacked decorum and decency, debate organizers said there will be format changes to future debates.
Celebrities Respond to Debate Chaos
After Americans finished watching the first 2020 Presidential Debate on Tuesday, many across the country agreed that one thing was clear: the debate was essentially a 90 minute car crash on live television.
“That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said on air after it ended. “That was the worst debate I have ever seen, in fact it wasn’t even a debate. It was a disgrace.”
Moderator Chris Wallace was largely unable to control the constant crosstalk and interrupting between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden throughout the night. At one point, when Biden could not get more than three words in without Trump interjecting, Biden told Trump to “shut up.” While Biden did interrupt the president as well, Wallace said most of the cutting in was done by Trump.
“I think that the country would be better served, if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that,” Wallace said in a plea to Trump.
Some of the most colorful commentaries of the night came from singer Cardi B, who posted several videos on Instagram of her doing what many Americans found themselves doing on Tuesday: screaming at their televisions.
“Tell Joe to get aggressive,” she shouted, addressing Biden’s campaign team. “When this n**** try to talk over Joe, he better start like ‘EXCUSE ME I’m talking! I’m talking! Excuse me, I’m talking!’ Don’t let this man pick on you! He just wanna do a show so give him a show.”
She repeatedly attacked Trump for interrupting Biden, and for the recent New York Times report alleging that Trump only paid $750 in taxes in 2016. She also joined the many critics who did not believe Wallace was handling the chaos on stage well.
“I can tell he’s on Trump’s side, this moderator needs to be replaced right now,” she said.
She was not alone in sharing her live reactions. Actors like Kumail Nanjiani and Mark Ruffalo live-tweeted in horror as all decorum was thrown out the window minutes into the debate. Less than 30 minutes into the broadcast, actress Brie Larson reminded people that it was okay for them to turn the debate off if they were reaching a breaking point.
Many celebrities also used the debate to remind their followers to vote. Ariana Grande put voting resources in her Instagram story. Others tweeted out registration links.
Politicians and Journalists Condemn Aspects of Debate
Politicians also responded to the fiery debate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that Trump’s words should serve as a reminder that democracy is on the line in this election.
Other Senators, like Ed Markey and Cory Booker, condemned President Trump for refusing to denounce white supremacy, and instead telling the Proud Boys, a white nationalist-tied group, to “stand back and stand by.”
Journalists were also shocked by the debate. After calling the debate a “hot mess inside a dumpster fire,” Tapper continued to rebuke the behavior on stage.
“One thing for sure, the American people lost,” he said. He was not along in thinking this.
“I found it at times painful to watch and very difficult to watch,” Gale King said during debate analysis on CBS News. “We have the president of the United States engaging in some of the language, and it wasn’t that it was swearing or cursing it was just, I’m looking for the decorum and decency that you expect at this particular level.”
NBC’s Katy Tur live-tweeted the debate. She criticized Wallace for telling Trump he would be pleased with upcoming questions and topics on multiple occasions.
On the other side, some did come to the defense of Trump. Fox News’ Tomi Lahren said that Biden only interrupts less “because he thinks slower.” She also called white privilege a “myth.”
Laura Ingraham claimed that Biden was able to interrupt, but did so with impunity.
This debate was the first of three between Trump and Biden. Following the chaos that unfolded, debate organizers said there will be format changes so that future debates have more structure.
See what others are saying: (The Hill) (The Independant) (New York Times)
Juror Accuses Kentucky AG of Misrepresenting Deliberations in Breonna Taylor Case
- On Monday, an anonymous grand juror on the Breonna Taylor case filed a complaint alleging that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron misrepresented the jury’s deliberations and failed to offer them the option to bring homicide charges against the officers.
- Last week, Cameron announced to the public that the grand jury had not filed any charges against the officers for Taylor’s death. Instead, the jury only brought charges against one officer for firing his weapon recklessly, sending shots into a neighboring apartment.
- In his announcement, Cameron repeatedly said that while he knew people would be upset with the decision, it was simply his job to present all the facts to the grand jury and let them decide.
- However, the complaint accused Cameron of using the jury “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.” It requested that the jury recordings be released and that the jurors be permitted to discuss the case publicly.
- Also on Monday, a judge ordered the recordings to be released, and Cameron said he would honor the request.
Grand Juror Files Complaint
A grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case filed a complaint in court Monday claiming that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron misrepresented the jury’s discussions and never offered them the option to bring homicide charges against the officers who shot Taylor in her apartment.
The complaint, which was filed anonymously, also requests that all recordings and transcripts from the jury deliberations be released and that the jurors on the case be permitted to speak about it publicly.
The filing comes just a week after Cameron announced that none of the three Louisville Metro Police officers involved in Taylor’s death were charged for the actual killing of the 26-year-old EMT in what has largely been described as a botched drug raid.
Louisville police were serving a warrant because they believed an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s was using her apartment to receive packages. Both Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, did not have any prior drug arrests or convictions, and no drugs were found in the apartment.
Police say they knocked and identified themselves before entering, but Walker claimed they did not. As a result, he said he thought they were an intruder, and when they entered by force, he fired a weapon, hitting one of the officers in the leg and prompting them to unload more than two dozen rounds into the apartment.
One of the officers, Detective Brett Hankison, blindly fired shots into the apartment which also traveled into neighboring apartments. Last week, the grand jury charged him with three counts of wanton endangerment, though not in connection with the death Taylor, but because of the shots he fired into the neighboring apartment.
The two other officers present, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, do not face any charges.
Following Cameron’s announcement of the grand jury’s findings, Taylor’s family, their lawyers, and many others said they did not believe the attorney general advocated on behalf of the young woman. Many have also called for more information regarding how Cameron presented the case to the jury.
However, Cameron refused to release any grand jury transcripts or recordings, arguing that it could interfere with other ongoing investigations.
Complaint Allegations vs. Cameron’s Public Statements
The grand juror complaint filed Monday also echoed those calls for transparency concerning the information presented to the jury, and accused Cameron of using the jury “as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility.”
In his remarks to the public, Cameron said that he knew many people would be unhappy with the decision but repeatedly emphasized that his role was to pursue the truth, present all the facts to the grand jury, and let them decide.
Regarding those facts, he said there were six possible homicide charges that could have been filed, but added that those charges “are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon.”
Cameron also said that the officers’ claim that they knocked and announced themselves was backed by an independent witness.
When a reporter asked why the testimony from just one witness was so credible — especially because out of a dozen witnesses they had spoken to only one said they heard police knock — he said that the jury “got to hear and listened to all the testimony and made the determination that Detective Hankinson was the one that needed to be indicted knowing all of the relative points that you made.”
Perhaps most significant, when asked if he ever presented manslaughter or homicide charges to be considered by the jury, Cameron refused to answer, citing the secrecy of the proceedings, but placed the decision firmly on the jury.
“What I will say is that our team walked them through every homicide offense, and also presented all of the information that was available to the grand jury,” he said. “And then the grand jury was ultimately the one that made the decision about indicting Detective Hankinson for wanton endangerment.”
In the complaint, however, the juror claims that Cameron’s public remarks about the decisions the jury made “further laid those decisions at the feet of the grand jury while failing to answer specific questions regarding the charges presented.”
The complaint alleges that Cameron “attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge,” and thus imply it was the jury that decided not to bring homicide charges, when in reality, he was the one who never gave them that option in the first place.
“The only exception to the responsibility he foisted upon the grand jurors was in his statement that they ‘agreed’ with his team’s investigation that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their actions,” it continued.
The complaint then goes on to argue that it is in the public interest to release the records, specifically because so many citizens have shown a lack of faith in the legal proceedings and the justice system itself.
“The public interest spreads across the entire commonwealth when the highest law enforcement official fails to answer questions and instead refers to the grand jury making the decisions,” it said. “It is patently unjust for the jurors to be subjected to the level of accountability the Attorney General campaigned for simply because they received a summons to serve their community.”
Cameron Response and Judge Ruling
Notably, the juror’s request that the records be made public was not the only such petition made Monday. During an arraignment hearing for Hankison — where he pleaded not guilty to all charges — the judge overseeing the case ordered recordings of the grand jury proceedings to be added to the court file by noon Wednesday.
On Monday night, Cameron said that he would follow the judge’s order and release the recordings, and confirmed for the first time that he never asked the jury to consider homicide or manslaughter charges.
In a statement announcing the decision, the attorney general reiterated that he believed the grand jury was meant to be secretive, and that releasing the records “could compromise the ongoing federal investigation and could have unintended consequences such as poisoning the jury pool.”
“Despite these concerns, we will comply with the Judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” he continued, noting that the release “will also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror.”
Cameron also said that he did not have concerns about jurors speaking to the public, arguing that once the public hears the recording, “they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the Grand Jury,”
See what others are saying: (The Courier-Journal) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
NYT Report Details Growing Threat of Ransomware Attacks Ahead of the Election
- Tyler Technologies, a software vendor that election officials use to collect and share election results, was recently the victim of a ransomware attack, though details about the attack remain largely unknown.
- A New York Times report claims Tyler Technologies is one of nearly 1,000 voting systems or groups across the country that have been subject to a hack over the past year. Many of those hacks were conducted by Russian criminal groups.
- The Times‘ report details that the United States is very vulnerable to the growing threats of hacking in the election right now as the spread of misinformation and distrust within the country’s political climate already runs rampant.
- The report indicates that the U.S. is particularly vulnerable to a perception hack, which would involve a hacker spreading misinformation to create distrust about the election results. The FBI has issued warnings about the potential spread of election misinformation in the days after November 3.
Attack at Tyler Technologies
As Election Day looms closer and closer, threats of ransomware attacks are growing larger, according to a recent report from The New York Times.
The report indicates that there have been nearly 1,000 attacks against voting systems across the United States over the past year, many of which were conducted by Russian criminal groups. Right now, it is unclear if all of these were traditional ransomware attacks where hackers were simply seeking fast cash, or if they posed a serious threat to the 2020 election.
One recent attack was lodged against Tyler Technologies, a Texas-based software vendor that election officials use to collect and share election results. Tyler has not released details about the hack, so it is unclear who was behind it or what the purpose of the attack was. Reuters obtained an email the company sent to its customers, which simply explained that there had been a “security incident involving unauthorized access to our internal phone and information technology systems by an unknown third party.”
The Times said it initially looked like an ordinary ransomware attack, but clients later saw outsiders trying to gain access to their systems, raising concern that there could be something larger at play.
“That has been the fear haunting federal officials for a year now,” the report’s authors, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sangerthat, wrote. “That in the days leading up to the election, or in its aftermath, ransomware groups will try to freeze voter registration data, election poll books or the computer systems of the secretaries of the state who certify election results.”
Threat of Perception Hacks
Among the potential threats ransomware attacks and hacking pose, the Times noted the specific harm “perception hacks” could have on the United States. The outlet describes these hacks as ransomware attacks that could particularly happen in battleground states and could “create the impression that voters everywhere would not be able to cast their ballots or that the ballots could not be accurately counted.”
“On election night there would be no faster way to create turmoil than altering the reporting of the vote — even if the vote itself was free of fraud,” Perlroth and Sangerthat wrote.
“That would be a classic perception hack: If Mr. Trump was erroneously declared a winner, for example, and then the vote totals appeared to change, it would be easy to claim someone was fiddling with the numbers.”
These kinds of hacks might only be aided by the fact that President Donald Trump himself has been spreading misinformation about mail-in voting and casting doubt on the election results should he not win. According to the Times, officials fear his unfounded comments about Democrats cheating in the election could even be a signal to hackers, telling them to create just enough incidents to support his false claims of fraud.
The country’s current political climate creates the perfect storm for Americans being vulnerable to perception hacks. Results of the election will likely take days to be counted, and if Americans are unprepared for the wait, they may be unwilling to accept the final toll.
James Shires, a researcher at the Atlantic Center’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, spoke to MIT’s Technology Review about the vulnerable position the country is in right now when it comes to any type of hack on the election. Shires compared a potential hack in the U.S. 2020 election to a hack that previously happened in France’s presidential election, noting that America’s response would be very different from France’s.
“The effect of a hacking operation really comes from the underlying political context and in that case the US is far worse now than it was in 2016,” Shires explained.
“If you look at the Macron leaks, which happened shortly before the French president was elected, a lot of things from the party were put online. French media got together, the candidate communicated, and they agreed not to publish stories based on these leaks before the election. There is a lot of trust and community spirit in the French media and political environment. That is clearly not the case in the US at the moment.”
What is Being Done About These Threats?
Because the impact of any potential hack could be severe and sow discord throughout the already divided country, the FBI has warned that in the days after the election, the public could see “disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy.”
As for efforts to prevent these attacks from happening, some officials have said that progress is being made. However, the Times reported that in the first two weeks of September alone, seven American government entities had been hit with ransomware and had their data stolen.
“The chance of a local government not being hit while attempting to manage the upcoming and already ridiculously messy election would seem to be very slim,” Brett Callow, a threat analyst at a security firm called Emsisoft told the Times.