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Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Ryan Londregan charged in fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II

State Trooper Ryan Londregan charged in death of Ricky Cobb II
State Trooper Ryan Londregan charged in death of Ricky Cobb II 02:29

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Ryan Londregan has been charged in the fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II during a traffic stop in MInneapolis over the summer, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced. 

Londregan is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter — all felonies. Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty announced the decision to file charges during a late Wednesday morning news conference.

"Our hearts are with Ricky Cobb's family today, who are grieving an unimaginable loss," Moriarty said. "I know that they are devastated and will continue to feel this loss for the rest of their lives."

According to the attorney's office, Londregan's use of deadly force was not necessary to prevent "reasonably likely" death or great bodily harm to the officer or another. 

"This county attorney has provided sweetheart deals to murderers and kidnappers, and now today she charges a hero," Londregan's attorney Chris Madel said in a video statement. "This county attorney is literally out of control. Open season on law enforcement must end, and it's going to end with this case."

Criminal complaint details

Cobb, 33, was pulled over in the early hours of July 31 on Interstate 94 near Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis for not having his tail lights on, according to the Department of Public Safety. 

According to the charges, Londregan arrived at the scene at 2:11 a.m. — about 20 minutes after Cobb was initially stopped. There were two state patrol troopers at the scene, with one of the troopers speaking with Cobb from the passenger side door and the other seated in his squad vehicle. 

Londregan was informed by the troopers that Cobb was wanted for violating a protective order in Ramsey County, but there was no arrest warrant outstanding in that case. Shortly after, one of the troopers got confirmation from the county that they wanted Cobb arrested and brought to jail, the complaint said. 

All three troopers then approached the vehicle. One trooper was at the driver's side with another trooper behind him. Londregan stood alongside the passenger door.

The trooper positioned next to the driver's door told Cobb that he needed to step out of the vehicle because they had "some stuff to talk about [having to do with] Ramsey County," the charges state. The troopers did not give Cobb a reason for wanting him to get out of the vehicle, other than that they'd "explain it all" when he did. 

View of body cam footage from Londregan.  Minnesota Department of Public Safety

About a minute later, the trooper on the driver's side door told Cobb that "this is now a lawful arrest." At that time, Londregan began opening the passenger-side door. As Londregan pulled the door open, Cobb shifted the vehicle into drive and took his foot off the brake. The vehicle began moving forward slowly. 

The trooper on the driver's side door also attempted to open the door and tried reaching for Cobb's seatbelt. At that moment, Cobb stepped on the brake and vehicle stopped moving forward. It was at that time that Londregan pulled his firearm and pointed it at Cobb, the complaint said. 

RELATED: Video released in trooper's fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II in Minneapolis

Londregan allegedly yelled "get out of the car now" as Cobb again took his foot off the brake with the vehicle again moving forward. According to the criminal complaint, Londregan fired his handgun "within several tenths of second" after yelling at Cobb to get out of the vehicle. He fired twice at Cobb's torso, hitting him both times. 

After Cobb was shot, the vehicle continued accelerating forward. The trooper on the driver's side and Londregan continued stepping forward at the pace of the vehicle for six to 10 feet until they both lost their footing and fell to the ground. The vehicle continued down I-94. 

After a brief pursuit on I-94, video shows that they came to a stop on the left lane of the highway. The three surround the car and eventually pull Cobb out to provide first aid. Cobb, however, died at the scene.

Family seeks justice, files complaint with POST Board 

Family members say that all the available video shows that at no point was Cobb seen holding a firearm. Investigators have said that one was located in the back of the vehicle following the shooting, but it's not clear to whom it belonged.

The attorney's office received the case from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in September. At the time, Moriarty said the BCA informed her that there were state patrol employees who have "thus far refused to cooperate" with the BCA's investigation.

Moriarty also said after receiving the case her office identified a use-of-force expert to conduct an independent review.

Ricky Cobb II Cobb Family

In early January, Cobb's family filed a complaint with the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, arguing that Londregan's use of deadly force did not comply with state statutes. Nyra Fields-Miller, Cobb's mother, said Cobb did not present a threat of harm to the troopers.

She also contended that no trooper tried to deescalate the situation when Londregan pulled his gun. This, she said, violated a state statute that requires a peace officer to intervene when seeing another officer illegally use deadly force.

After the shooting, family members called for the troopers to be charged and fired. The troopers were placed on standard administrative leave after the shooting. 

The county attorney's office is not seeking bail. Prosecutors will be asking the court to require Londregan to surrender his passport and firearms, as well as follow the court's conditions. 

If convicted, Londregan could face up to 40 years in prison on the murder charge. 

Statement from Minnesota State Patrol 

State Patrol Col. Matt Langer released a statement shortly after the charging decision was announced. Read it below.

Any time a use-of-force incident ends with the loss of a life, it is tragic. Ricky Cobb II's death is no different. This is a sad situation for everyone involved. We acknowledge the deep loss felt by Mr. Cobb's family and friends. We also recognize the gravity of this situation for the State Patrol and our troopers tasked with making difficult split-second decisions.

In accordance with the troopers' labor contract, Trooper Ryan Londregan will remain on paid leave while an investigation by the Department of Public Safety's Internal Affairs Division is completed. That investigation has begun and will inform employment decisions.

The State Patrol is also conducting a critical incident review that will examine and inform our training and policies.

Today's announcement of criminal charges by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office marks the next step in the judicial process related to this case. We respect that process and cannot comment further due to the ongoing criminal proceedings. 

What's next

Attorney Joe Tamburino, who's not associated with the case, says Londregan's case already differs from previous police killings.

While prosecutors don't have to prove intent for the second-degree manslaughter and murder charges, they will for the assault charge.

"I'm surprised at that," Tamburino said. "Usually you do not see such a serious intent crime in the middle of two negligence crimes."

Valerie Castile is one of the few who truly knows what Cobb's family may be feeling. Her son, Philando, was killed during a traffic stop in 2016.

We asked her what it was like the day she learned charges were brought against the officer who killed him.

"It's a big relief because [of] that weight of uncertainty and not knowing and just wanting it to happen," she said. "It's just refreshing that people are being held accountable."

Londregan's lawyers have asked to have the case dismissed based on the fact that a grand jury didn't come back with charges.

But the Hennepin County Attorney's Office says they asked a grand jury only to investigate the case, not make a charging decision.

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