Hennepin County Attorney’s Office reviewing BCA findings in fatal Minnesota State Patrol shooting of Ricky Cobb II
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said it is reviewing the findings submitted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) related to the fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper.
A news release from the attorney’s office states that Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty met with Cobb’s family on Monday to notify them that the BCA would be submitting their case and that she remains committed to a fair decision-making process.
Hennepin County Attorney Moriarty also shared the following written statement:
“We thank the BCA for their hard work and we will begin our own thorough review of the case immediately.
“We have learned from the BCA that there are state patrol employees who have thus far refused to cooperate with the BCA’s investigation. These are individuals who are not the subject of the investigation but may have relevant information. We are disappointed by this lack of cooperation as the family, the community, and the troopers involved in this incident all deserve answers. For our part, I am committed to ensuring that our office utilizes all resources available to us to conduct a complete and thorough review, and reaches a decision as quickly as possible.
“We have already identified a use-of-force expert – the type of expert who examines evidence in nearly every case where an officer uses force. Their independent review is a critical part of our process. We selected this expert even before we received the completed investigation so that we could move forward with our work immediately upon receipt of the file. To ensure a fair and just process, we cannot disclose any further information at this time.
“I hear the community calls for an immediate charging decision, but I also know that rushing can lead to mistakes. Thank you for your patience as we work diligently to get this right.”Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty
Bakari Sellers, an attorney for one of the Cobb family members, said “We’re disappointed in the officers’ lack of cooperation. We look forward to a fair and transparent investigation by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office. The family is still grieving. Ricky should be alive today, and we’re going to continue to fight for justice.”
As for Moriarty’s decision to share her feelings about the investigation, a law professor with the University of St. Thomas, Rachel Moran, says it’s likely a strategic one. Moran added that’s likely the case for the state patrol employees Moriarty mentioned did not cooperate with the BCA’s investigation.
“In general, when we think about the ‘blue wall of silence,’ that nickname is earned for police officers,” Moran said, adding: “It’s this idea that law enforcement agencies often double down to protect their own, particularly when their own are being subjected to a possible criminal investigation.”
Moran said Moriarty mentioning a few other points like having met with the Cobb family this week and that an independent use-of-force expert is ready to review the evidence, also sends a message.
“Saying things like, ‘We’ve got an expert, we’ve informed the family, we’ve got people who apparently aren’t willing to cooperate,’ those are all statements intended to show that she knows what’s going on and that she’s taking this seriously,” Moran said.
The case has attracted political conflict regarding the relationship between the Minnesota State Patrol and the BCA, with some saying the investigation could be compromised by a conflict of interest. Both state agencies are part of the Department of Public Safety.
Another point of contention arose when Governor Walz and members of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office met with Cobb’s family following the shooting.
In response, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association wrote a public letter denouncing the private meeting, saying that it “specifically undermines the due process, rule of law, and rights of our law enforcement officers.” The MPPOA also demanded that the attorney’s office preserve all records of communications and meetings between Cobb’s family and the governor’s office.
In response to Moriarty’s statement Tuesday, the general counsel for the MPPOA, Imran Ali, sent the following statement:
“It is unconscionable that a county attorney, who is responsible for a potential charging decision in a criminal matter, make any comment involving a case before the decision has been made. As a former prosecutor, it’s clear her comments run contrary to due process rights. Prosecutors are the ministers of justice, and these statements unethically tip the balance.”Imran Ali, general counsel for the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association
Ali, who is also a former Washington County prosecutor, did an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS as well and described this case’s development “appalling.”
“I would say that I’m disappointed in the county attorney Moriarty, who has over three decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney and understands the issues of pretrial publicity,” Ali said. “[She] understands the issues of making statements that could potentially taint a jury, understand the issues of making comments that could sway a decision one way or another.”
More coverage of the fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II can be found here.