Hennepin County attorney drops murder charges against State Patrol trooper in shooting death of Ricky Cobb II

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Charges have been dismissed against a state trooper in connection with the fatal shooting of a 33-year-old man during a traffic stop last July, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Sunday, saying that in light of new information prosecutors felt unable to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the use of force was not necessary.

Trooper Ryan Londegran was charged with murder in the shooting of motorist Ricky Cobb II, who failed to get out of his car during a July traffic stop and took his foot off the brake when officers tried to arrest him.

“Ricky Cobb II should still be alive today,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in the press release. “Today’s necessary decision does not change that fact, nor does it exonerate Mr. Londregan or the methods his supervisors used to train him in difficult situations. The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing a person of any wrongdoing. There are so many points at which Mr. Londregan could have handled the situation differently, and if he had, Ricky Cobb might still be alive. But that is not the question before us as prosecutors; the only question is whether we can still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred given this new evidence. The answer to that question is no, and I would violate my ethical duties if I nonetheless continued with the case.”

New evidence

The decision was made after new evidence was presented in court by defense lawyers, she said.

The press release said that in court on April 29, the defense said that Londregan was going to testify that he saw Cobb reach for the trooper’s firearm shortly before he fired shots that killed Cobb. In addition, there was also going to be testimony saying that trainers never told troopers not to shoot into moving vehicles during “an extraction, even though that is best practice.”

Because of this information, prosecutors consulted with a use of force expert to see if they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that deadly force was not justified, the press release said.

Earlier, when announcing the charges of second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said Londregan’s use of deadly force against Cobb, a 33-year-old Black man, was not justified.

“As with all Minnesota law enforcement officers, state troopers may only use deadly force when it is necessary to protect a person from a specific identified threat of great bodily harm or death that was reasonably likely to occur. That did not exist in this case,” Moriarty said at the time.

Londregan’s attorney Chris Madel called his client “a hero,” saying Londregan, 27, was trying to protect himself and a fellow trooper. Madel filed papers seeking to have the case dismissed or at least to have Moriarty removed from the case.

Stopped on Interstate 94

Londregan shot Cobb after two other troopers pulled him over on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis when he saw the lights were out on the Ford Fusion that Cobb was driving, according to the criminal complaint.

One of the troopers, Brett Seide, checked Cobb’s record and found he was wanted for violating an order for protection in neighboring Ramsey County. There was no outstanding arrest warrant, however, so the troopers checked with Ramsey County officials to find out if they wanted Cobb taken into custody, the complaint said.

Ramsey County asked that he be arrested. By then, Londregan had arrived.

Seide approached the driver’s side of Cobb’s car while Londregan went to the passenger door, according to the complaint.

The troopers asked Cobb to get out of the car, whose doors were locked and front windows down. Seide told Cobb he was under arrest while Londregan reached inside, unlocked the doors and began opening the passenger door. The complaint said Cobb then shifted the car into drive and took his foot off the brake.

According to the complaint, Cobb’s car began to slowly move forward. Londregan reached for his gun. Cobb stopped the car. The trooper pointed his gun at Cobb and yelled, “Get out of the car now!” Cobb took his foot off the brake again. Within less than a second, Londregan fired his handgun twice at Cobb, striking him both times in the chest, the complaint said.

The car accelerated forward while Seide’s torso was still inside. Seide and Londregan tried to keep up with the car for several feet before falling. The car collided with a concrete median about a quarter mile (400 meters) away.

The troopers caught up, pulled Cobb out and attempted lifesaving measures. Cobb was pronounced dead at the scene.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.

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