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Gov. Walz wades into controversy surrounding charges against state trooper in Ricky Cobb II's death

Gov. Walz speaks on controversy surrounding charges against state trooper
Gov. Walz speaks on controversy surrounding charges against state trooper 00:39

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz waded on Monday into the controversy surrounding criminal charges filed against a Minnesota State Patrol trooper who fatally shot a motorist last summer on a Minneapolis freeway.

Trooper Ryan Londregan killed Ricky Cobb II on Interstate 94 during a traffic stop in the early morning hours of July 31, 2023.

Londregan was charged by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office with one count of second-degree unintentional murder, and a count each of first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter.

Almost one year ago, Walz became just the second governor in Minnesota history to reroute a criminal case from a county attorney without their consent. That prosecutor was Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty. Walz is now being urged to repeat that rare move. 

Ryan Londregan WCCO

Walz comments on the Londregan case

On March 11, Londregan's lawyers accused Moriarty's office of ignoring the opinion of use-of-force expert Jeff Noble, who was interviewed before the charging decision. 

Londregan's team claims Noble told the attorney's office his use of force was reasonable since the trooper thought his colleagues' lives were in danger.

Moriarty's office responded in a statement claiming defense attorneys "selectively quoted a partial sentence of a lengthy document...[that] excludes critical facts where the expert acknowledged information he would need to fully analyze the case."

During Walz's press conference on Monday about the state's supplemental budget proposal, he was asked about the Londregan case. Walz went on to question the strategy of Moriarty's office regarding Noble.  

Ricky Cobb II Cobb Family

"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.

Walz says the case has been rife with "confusion and controversy," and he has discussed it with "lots of legal experts."

"I think many of you know the history (of Minnesota governors usurping the authority of elected prosecutors), this has been done twice. And I was one of those cases in the McKeever case. And I think you have to leave things options open. That authority was given to the governor to be able to exercise that job," he said.

MPPOA urges Walz to reroute Londregan case to AG Ellison

On Friday, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association sent a letter to Walz urging him to give the Londregan case to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, nearly a year after Walz did just that in the Zaria McKeever murder case.  

Gov. Tim Walz WCCO

The MPPOA says the Londregan case has the law enforcement community "united in outrage," and it accuses Moriarty's office of deciding to "manufacture a basis, no matter how flimsy, to bring the charges they intended to bring from the very start" and sought to "minimize the chance that Noble's analysis could be used against them."   

Walz, Moriarty, Ellison and the McKeever case

The dispute has led to renewed calls for the ouster of Moriarty, who has come under fire in her first year in office for offering plea deals to juveniles charged with serious violent crimes.

Moriarty and Walz first came to blows in April 2023 amid the McKeever case, specifically the role of a 15-year-old boy in her 2022 shooting death. The teen who fatally shot her was offered a plea deal which would have led to a two-year sentence followed by probation.

The victim's family and community members were outraged by the move and soon gained the sympathy of Attorney General Keith Ellison, who asked Walz to reroute the case to his office.

Moriarty called the move "undemocratic" and "dangerous."

"(Walz and Ellison) find themselves in very poor company. Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi Republicans are all trying to pass laws that give them more power to remove democratically elected prosecutors over their decision making," Moriarty said in April 2023.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty WCCO

The deadly encounter between Londregan and Cobb

Cobb, 33, was pulled over by troopers who had noticed his tail lights weren't on. The troopers soon discovered an active alert in Ramsey County for Cobb's violation of a no-contact order in a domestic case.

Body camera footage from three troopers at the scene shows Cobb refusing to exit his vehicle, asking troopers if they had a warrant, which they didn't. Cobb asks to call his attorney while the troopers repeatedly tell him to get out. 

Footage appears to show Cobb placing his hand on the gear shift as troopers open both his driver's side and passenger's side doors. The sound of gunfire is then heard in a squad car's dash cam video.

Footage shows Cobb driving away, causing two troopers to fall hard onto the roadway. Cobb's vehicle comes to a rest moments later, and the troopers soon discover he has died from his injuries.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says Londregan fired two shots at Cobb, striking him twice in the torso. 

Londregan faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

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