Minnesota trooper charged with murder in fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb

A Minnesota state trooper who fatally shot a 33-year-old Black man after he took his foot off the brake during a July traffic stop has been charged with murder, officials said Wednesday.

Trooper Ryan Londregan, 27, is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a news conference. During the shooting, which killed Ricky T. Cobb II, a reasonable threat “did not exist” before Londregan opened fire, Moriarty said. Her office’s decision to file the criminal charges comes after the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension finished its investigation of the incident in September.

Cobb’s killing sparked outrage from his family and community leaders, who called for Londregan and the two other state troopers who were on the scene to be fired. Londregan is the only trooper facing charges in the case, but all three are on paid leave, the Minnesota State Patrol said in a statement.

Christopher Madel, Londregan’s attorney, criticized the charges in a video statement released Wednesday in which he called his client a “hero.”

“Open season on law enforcement must end, and it’s going to end with this case,” Madel said.

Cobb, of St. Cloud, had been pulled over in Minneapolis at about 2 a.m. on July 31 for driving without his lights, officials said. One of the troopers at the scene said they learned Cobb was wanted for “violation of a protective order” in another county, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

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The troopers asked Cobb to get out of his silver Ford Fusion, telling him they would explain why once he exited the vehicle, according to the complaint. Cobb stayed in the car, asking whether there was a warrant for his arrest, to which the trooper replied that there was no warrant but that he would “explain it all out when you get out of the car,” the complaint stated.

During the roughly one-minute exchange, Cobb kept his hands off the steering wheel and his car was in park, according to the complaint. Cobb repeatedly questioned why the troopers were asking him to exit his car before Londregan opened the passenger-side door and another trooper started to open the driver-side door, body-camera footage shows. At that time, Cobb shifted to drive and took his foot off the brake, the complaint stated.

The vehicle then briefly moved forward, according to footage from a trooper’s dash cam. Londregan drew his firearm, yelling, “Get out of the car now!” and then shot twice, hitting Cobb’s torso, according to the complaint. After Londregan fired the shots, he and the trooper next to the driver’s side door lost their footing as Cobb’s car continued moving forward, later hitting a concrete median a quarter-mile down the road.

Officials released body-camera video from the traffic stop in early August. At the time, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said a handgun was found in the back of Cobb’s car, but video did not show him holding it at any point during the exchange with the troopers.

Cobb’s mother, Nyra Fields-Miller, said after officials announced the charges against Londregan that her son was “defenseless” when he was shot.

“Nothing can ever make up for that,” Fields-Miller said in a statement. “But today’s decision is the first step toward closure and justice.”

During the news conference Wednesday, Moriarty, the county attorney, said state troopers are trained to carry out traffic stops safely. Troopers are only permitted to use deadly force when there is a threat of great bodily harm or death, she said, adding that this was not the case during Cobb’s traffic stop.

Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, described the case as a “sad situation for everyone involved.”

“We acknowledge the deep loss felt by Mr. Cobb’s family and friends,” Langer said in a statement. “We also recognize the gravity of this situation for the State Patrol and our troopers tasked with making difficult split-second decisions.”

Ben Brasch contributed to this report.

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