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Murder charges dropped against Minnesota state trooper Ryan Londregan in killing of Ricky Cobb II

Murder and manslaughter charges against a White Minnesota State Trooper who shot and killed a Black man during a traffic stop on Interstate 94 last summer have been dropped, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Sunday.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty filed a notice of dismissal of charges against Ryan Londregan in the shooting death of 33-year-old Ricky Cobb II due to “several new pieces of evidence that would make it impossible for the State to prove that Mr. Londregan’s actions were not an authorized use of force by a peace officer.”

Moriarty and the prosecution team met with a use of force expert and later determined the state could no longer meet its burden of proof, her office says. The county attorney cites two pieces of evidence that would “make it impossible” for the state to prove Londregan’s actions were not justified.

First, during an open court hearing on April 29, the defense revealed the substance of Londregan’s prospective testimony, claiming he saw Cobb reach for his firearm just before Londregan shot him.

Additionally, an MSP trainer had claimed that he never instructed officer to refrain from shooting into a moving vehicle during an extraction, even though it is best practice.

“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,” Moriarty said. “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.”

Moriarty says she and others in her office met with Cobb’s family before publicly announcing the charges would be dropped.

In response to the charges being dropped, Londregan’s attorney, Chris Madel said, “It’s about g—d— time.”

“Our troopers work hard every day to keep Minnesota safe. They are in a line of work that is increasingly difficult and dangerous — but also more important than ever,” said Col. Christina Bogojevic, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. “The use of force that took Ricky Cobb II’s life unfolded in a fraction of a second. We acknowledge the loss felt by Mr. Cobb’s family. We also recognize the immense toll this incident has taken on our troopers and staff.”

Last month, Londregan pleaded not guilty to felony charges of second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter. He remains on paid leave while the Minnesota State Patrol conducts a critical incident review.

Moriarty had previously been accused of ignoring an expert’s opinion on Londregan’s use of deadly force. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA), the largest police organization in the state, even requested that Gov. Tim Walz hand over the case to the attorney general.

“Open season on law enforcement needs to end – on the streets and in the courtroom,” MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters said in response to the charges being dropped. “Trooper Londregan should have never been charged, and we are glad this political case is over. Enough is enough.”

In late April, Moriarty’s office said she was “assembling a new prosecution team” and entered into a contract with a Washington D.C.-based law firm. The move to hire outside legal council was also met with criticism.

The decision will be discussed in more detail at a press conference on Monday morning, according to the county attorney’s office.

The special prosecutors hired for the case also developed a report that includes an analysis of the impact of the new evidence and recommendations for the Minnesota State Patrol. Those recommendations include requiring “prompt and complete” cooperation by law enforcement personnel during in-custody death investigation, a state patrol investigation to determine if policy and training changes are needed and an increase in de-escalation training for troopers.

Details of the shooting

On the morning of July 31, 2023, two troopers pulled Cobb over for not having his taillights on. They soon discovered he was wanted by Ramsey County law enforcement for violating a no-contact order in a domestic case.

Body camera footage captured by the troopers showed them demanding Cobb exit his vehicle. He refused and began driving away when a trooper tried to unbuckle his seat belt. That’s when Londregan fired two rounds into Cobb’s torso.

Cobb’s vehicle continued to move, causing two of the troopers to fall to the ground. The vehicle eventually came to a stop, and Cobb was found dead inside.

A federal lawsuit filed by Cobb’s family claims Londregan and Brett Seide unreasonably seized Cobb by ordering him out of the car without explaining if he was under arrest, and by reaching into the car and grabbing him in an attempt to “forcibly remove him.” The troopers also used “unnecessary, excessive, and deadly force” on Cobb, the lawsuit says.