Minnesota trooper charged with murder of Black motorist during traffic stop

Minnesota trooper charged with murder of Black motorist during traffic stop

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper has been charged after fatally shooting a Black motorist in July.

Ryan Londregan has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter, a news release from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said.

Ricky Cobb II was killed on 31 July 2023 after a traffic stop in Minneapolis. The victim was already pulled over at the scene with two other troopers, identified as Trooper A and Trooper B, before Mr Londregan arrived at around 2.11am approximately 20 minutes later, the complaint said.

Mr Cobb had been stopped because he was driving at night without his lights on.

Trooper A told Mr Londregan that Mr Cobb was wanted for a violation of a protective order in Ramsey County, although there was no arrest warrant outstanding for that case.

They were waiting to hear back from Ramsey County to see if they wanted him arrested, and later, Trooper A told the others that the county allegedly did want him arrested and brought to jail, the complaint stated.

Trooper A told Mr Cobb to step out of the car, who was questioning why he needed to, asking if there was a warrant for his arrest.

After Trooper A told Mr Cobb he was under arrest, Mr Londregan opened the passenger side of the car. Mr Cobb started to shift his car into drive, so Trooper A grabbed the driver’s side door and the victim’s vehicle began to slowly move forward.

Mr Cobb put his foot on the break as Trooper A began reaching over his body to his seatbelt, and Mr Londregan pointed his firearm at the victim.

The victim then took his foot off the break when Trooper A “physically grabbed” at him, making the car move slowly forward. At this point, Mr Londregan, who had been yelling at Mr Cobb, fired his handgun twice at his torso.

After Mr Cobb was shot, his vehicle accelerated, causing Trooper A and Mr Londregan to fall to the ground.

They ran to their squad cars, chasing after the victim’s car, which travelled a quarter mile down the road until it collided with a concrete median.

The troopers pulled Mr Cobb out of the vehicle and attempted life-saving measures but did not succeed.

Peace officers can use deadly force in some circumstances where it is justified, but in this instance, the criminal complaint alleges that the circumstances did not justify the use of deadly force, the press release said.

“Our hearts are with Ricky Cobb’s family today, who are grieving an unimaginable loss,” Hennepin County attorney Mary Moriarty said in the press release.

“I know that they are devastated and will continue to feel this loss for the rest of their lives.”

She added that while state troopers have extensive training on motor vehicle stops, Mr Londregan did not follow the training.

"As with all Minnesota law enforcement officers, state troopers may only use deadly force when it is necessary to protect a person from a specific, identified threat of great bodily harm or death that was reasonably likely to occur. That did not exist in this case. Ricky Cobb II should be alive today," Hennepin County attorney Mary Moriarty said at a news conference.

Mr Londregan’s lawyer, Chris Madel, criticised the decision to charge him in a video statement.

“This County attorney has provided sweetheart deals to murderers and kidnappers, and now, today, she charges a hero,” Mr Madel said.

“This County attorney is literally out of control. Open season on law enforcement must end. And it’s going to end with this case.”

While other factors could impact Mr Londregan’s sentencing, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that the presumptive sentence in Minnesota for second-degree unintentional murder is between 10 and 15 years.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is not seeking bail.