Prosecutors charging trooper with murder in fatal I-94 shooting of Ricky Cobb II
A Minnesota State Patrol trooper is being charged in connection to the fatal shooting of a man on Interstate 94 back in July.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday, after months of reviewing the case, that it is charging Trooper Ryan Londregan with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter for the shooting that killed Ricky Cobb II.
Cobb’s family is set to speak at a news conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday alongside civil rights attorney Harry Daniels. Check back for a live stream of the news conference.
“A critical component of the work of the Minnesota State Patrol is engaging with drivers during motor vehicle stops,” Moriarty said in announcing the decision, adding that Londregan didn’t follow his training in this case.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) previously said a State Patrol trooper saw a Ford Fusion without any taillights traveling on I-94 near Lowry Avenue just after 1:50 a.m.
The trooper pulled the driver over and then learned that the driver, identified as Cobb, was wanted by Ramsey County law enforcement for a felony-level violation, though there was no arrest warrant outstanding in that case.
Londregan arrived at the scene 20 minutes after the initial trooper, who told him that Cobb was wanted by Ramsey County.
Troopers tried to detain Cobb but DPS says he refused to get out of the vehicle. At that point, Cobb’s hands were not on the steering wheel or gear shifter, and he had not stepped on the brake, according to charging documents.
Then, as troopers tried to remove Cobb from the vehicle, he started driving away. The charging documents stated that as the other trooper’s entire torso was in the vehicle leaning over Cobb, Londregan pulled out his gun and yelled “Get out of the car now!” before firing his weapon twice several tenths of a second after yelling.
Cobb drove away and after his vehicle stopped a short distance away, troopers provided aid to him but he died at the scene.
“In a sense, they are all alleging the same misconduct. They’re all saying the trooper should not have fired his gun when he did,” said Rachel Moran, associate professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
“The charges make sense… if you’re going to charge this trooper with a crime, these are the ones that come closest to fitting,” Moran said, adding, “This is a case that needs to be scrutinized carefully, and it’s a close call about whether it was criminal behavior.”
The law firm representing Londregan, Madel PA, released a statement on Wednesday, saying, “This County Attorney has provided sweetheart deals to murderers and kidnappers, and now, today, she charges a hero. This County Attorney is literally out of control. Open season on law enforcement must end. And it’s going to end with this case.”
Defense lawyers for Londregan have already filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the case, arguing that prosecutors abused the grand jury process. They say a grand jury was assembled but did not return an indictment.
Moriarty’s office responded Wednesday, saying it never asked the grand jury for an indictment and said the process was for investigative purposes only.
“I can’t immediately think of a complaint where I’ve seen that before, but training definitely comes into play when you’re prosecuting a police officer,” Moran said. “The reason it’s particularly going to come into play here is Minnesota has a statute that talks about when peace officers can use deadly force and when they can’t.”
Cobb’s mother filed a formal complaint with the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training earlier this month, alleging that Cobb wasn’t armed and didn’t pose any threat to the troopers, and that the troopers didn’t follow use-of-force laws.
“Our hearts are with Ricky Cobb’s family today, who are grieving an unimaginable loss,” Moriarty said on Wednesday. “I know that they are devastated and will continue to feel this loss for the rest of their lives.”
“Ryan Londregan stole my son from me,” Cobb’s mother Nyra Fields-Miller said in a statement released by her attorneys. “He gunned Ricky down my son for no reason while he was defenseless. Nothing can ever make up for that. But today’s decision is the first step toward closure and justice.”
State Patrol Col. Matt Langer issued the following statement regarding the charges, saying, “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.”
“We continue to extend our condolences to the family of Ricky Cobb II. I understand this has been a painful journey for them, all of their loved ones and for members of our community,” said DPS Commissioner Bob Jacobson.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Minnesota State Patrol Troopers Association also released statements that expressed support for Londregan.
For 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS’ full coverage on Ricky Cobb II, CLICK HERE.