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Court releases documents detailing Hennepin County attorney's use-of-force expert's opinion in Londregan case

New documents reveal outside expert's take on Ryan Londregan's use of deadly force
New documents reveal outside expert's take on Ryan Londregan's use of deadly force 02:32

MINNEAPOLIS — WCCO has obtained documents that detail a conversation between the Hennepin County attorney, her staff and a use-of-force expert about his opinion on whether state trooper Ryan Londregan's use of deadly force was reasonable when he shot and killed Ricky Cobb II.

Earlier this month, attorneys for Londregan accused Mary Moriarty, the Hennepin County attorney, of ignoring the expert's legal opinion, which led to the largest law enforcement association in the state to request Gov. Tim Walz hand over the case to the attorney general. A spokesperson for Moriarty's office argued the defense "cherry-picked" information from the conversation, and that expert Jeff Noble's opinion, at the time, was preliminary.

The two-page document summarizes the Oct. 13 meeting between Noble and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. Noble said he was trying to determine if Londregan's use of deadly force was reasonable at the moment he used it, and whether Londregan and trooper Brett Seide's actions prior to the shooting were reckless and thus created an unreasonably dangerous situation which led Londregan to use deadly force.

The July 31 shooting was recorded on body camera video. Londregan, who faces charges including second-degree unintentional murder, pulled Cobb over on Interstate 94 around 2 a.m. for not having his tail light on. He, along with Seide and trooper Garrett Erickson, opened the doors to Cobb's car and tried to pull him out. The video shows Cobb put his hand on the shift gear; Londregan shot him twice as he pulled away. Cobb died after a brief pursuit on the interstate.

RELATED: Ricky Cobb II's family speaks out after trooper charged in death

Noble acknowledged the review was complicated because Londregan refused to provide a statement following the fatal shooting, so he did not know the reasoning behind Londregan's actions. 

"We do not know whether Trooper Londregan fired at Mr. Cobb because he feared for his safety or Seide's safety or simply because he did not want Mr. Cobb to flee," the document reads.

If Londregan shot Cobb to prevent him from fleeing, Noble said he would deem the use of deadly force unreasonable. But he said if Londregan shot Cobb because he feared for Seide's safety, his opinion would change. Ultimately, Noble refrained from offering a final opinion.

During the meeting, Noble reviewed body camera footage with Moriarty, and noted that Cobb's car was already moving forward when troopers entered the vehicle. 

"If trooper Seide never entered Mr. Cobb's vehicle, Trooper Londregan would not have been placed in the situation which prompted his use of deadly force," the document states. 

Though Noble said Seide should not have reached into the car, it did not necessarily make Londregan's use of deadly force unreasonable. In the end, Noble asked for more time to review the case.

MORE: Minnesota State Patrol's use-of-force expert says trooper who killed Ricky Cobb II "acted in accordance with training"

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed charges against Londregan on Jan. 24. In addition to second-degree unintentional murder, he faces first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter — all felonies. Documents describe a phone call between HCAO staff and Noble on Jan. 26, in which they asked him to "hold off any further work on the case." During a press conference, Moriarty said her office had identified a use-of-force expert to assist them with the investigation, but ended up not needing the help. 

This comment drew complaints from law enforcement groups; even Walz questioned Moriarty's decision.

"But as a layman on this, why would you not listen to use of force? Why would that not be central to something you do? And I will say if there are allegations at this time, release documents and let us know," Walz said at the time.

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