Hennepin County Prosecutor Moriarty drops murder charges against state trooper in Ricky Cobb II shooting

Hennepin County Prosecutor Mary Moriarty said she will dismiss murder and manslaughter charges against State Trooper Ryan Londregan in the shooting of motorist Ricky Cobb II last summer.

Moriarty told the Star Tribune that his unexpected decision followed a prosecution’s expert’s reanalysis of video from the scene, combined with recent statements from Londregan’s defense attorney. At a court hearing in April, attorney Chris Madel told the court that the 27-year-old police officer feared for his partner’s life because he believed the driver, Ricky Cobb II, was reaching for a gun . Moriarty said Londregan’s team has never raised this legal claim before. Prosecutors and the law enforcement expert reviewed the footage and found that as Londregan’s partner held on to the passenger door, Cobb raised his hand upwards and “you can’t see very clearly” what he does.

The expert said the video reveals “horrible, horrible, horrible” tactics deployed by the troopers, but it shows Londregan used lawful force at the time because he “could shoot to avoid serious bodily injury or death” of his partner, Moriarty. said.

“We could theoretically prosecute and let the jury decide,” she said. “However, ethically we cannot do that because we do not believe, at this point, that we can refute this affirmative defense.”

“It’s not about us going backwards,” Moriarty continued, adding that last week’s killing of Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell did not influence his decision. “It’s about recognizing that given all the barriers that have been put in place in these types of cases and the new information that has come to light, we simply cannot ethically move forward.”

“It’s about time,” Londregan’s attorney, Madel, said Sunday. “This will only concern me in the recorded commentary.”

The case also saw prosecutorial upheaval after Hennepin County Deputy Prosecutor Joshua Larson withdrew from the case and was replaced by an outside attorney from Steptoe LLP, a law firm. international lawyers based in Washington DC with a contract that included an initial amount of one million dollars. billing ceiling for their services. In a report released Sunday, the special prosecutor recommended that the charges be dropped, and Moriarty said she agreed with that recommendation.

The 9-page report states that while the troopers’ tactics were flawed in their failure to de-escalate the situation during the traffic stop, they were “not clearly contrary to their training.”

“Suffice it to say that the State’s ability to rebut the justifications offered by Londregan for his use of deadly force has diminished significantly in the months since his indictment. As a result, the charges can no longer be proven in court. beyond all reasonable doubt.”

The ruling brings an unceremonious conclusion to a legal battle that has captivated Minnesotans and exploited fast-paced politics around police use of force in America. Londregan has maintained his innocence since charges were filed in January. His comrades and other law enforcement supporters arrived by bus and filled the courthouse before several hearings, wearing T-shirts and carrying signs calling for the charges to be dropped and Moriarty to be recalled from its functions. Several briefly clashed with a smaller but vocal contingent demanding justice for the Cobbs before a hearing in April.

Moriarty said she has been at the center of criticism since announcing the accusations, when Madel posted a video calling her “out of control.”

“The hunt for law enforcement must end,” Madel said at the time. “And that’s going to end with this case.”

Moriarty, a former public defender, ran for Hennepin County’s top prosecutor after the killing of George Floyd as part of a campaign that included holding police officers accountable when they break the law. In a lengthy interview Sunday, she said the case was never political to her, and she felt Londregan’s defense team, police organizations and politicians who made comments she said were “really inappropriate, really disrespectful to Ricky Cobb’s family.”

This includes the governor. Tim Walz, who publicly expressed concerns about the handling of the case, shortly after the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association sent his office a letter asking Walz to order the office of the Attorney General to take charge of the prosecution.

“The governor never contacted me,” she said. “I don’t recall him intervening in anyone’s case on behalf of the person charged.”

Asked if she thought Walz was preparing to take the case out of his office, Moriarty said it was possible. “Who knows, right? And that would be tragic,” she said. “I mean, I’m capable of doing my job. I’m doing it here, right? This will probably have political consequences for me, but like I’ve always said, the people have not elected to make political decisions. They elected me to make courageous ethical decisions.

Londregan’s charges stem from a traffic stop on Interstate 94 north of Minneapolis last July, when other officers stopped Cobb for driving without tail lights but quickly learned he was wanted for violation of a national no-contact order. Cobb, 33, did not follow orders to exit his vehicle and instead got behind the wheel, causing the car to swerve while Londregan and a co-worker were partly inside trying to stop it. to remove. Londregan fired his service weapon, striking Cobb twice.

Moriarty said she charged Londregan based on the evidence available at the time and the judge said there was probable cause to pursue the case. Her office offered the defense to come and talk about what Londregan would say in court several times, she said, but he refused and other witnesses did not cooperate with the Bureau of Criminal’s investigation. Apprehension. She said the prosecution was caught off guard when Madel made comments in the courtroom about fearing Cobb was reaching for a gun.

Cobb had a gun in the vehicle and Moriarty said there was still no evidence he intended to grab it, but those statements caused prosecutors to reconsider the evidence from a new perspective.

“They could have told us before they filed charges, they could have told us at any time,” she said. “And that’s information that we would have taken into account – and obviously have taken into account.”

Star Tribune reporters Kim Hyatt, Liz Sawyer and Josie Albertson-Grove contributed to this story.

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