Charges dropped against Minnesota state trooper who killed Black motorist

By Thomson Reuters Jun 2, 2024 | 7:31 PM

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Prosecutors in Minnesota on Sunday dismissed charges against a state trooper accused of unintentional murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of Black motorist Ricky Cobb II last year, citing new evidence that weakened their case.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said prosecutors were not exonerating State Trooper Ryan Londregan, only that they no longer believed they could meet their burden of proof at trial.

Asked about the dismissal of charges, defense attorney Christopher Madel said in an email, “It’s about goddamned time.”

Cobb’s killing took place in the same city where George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in 2020, which set off global racial justice protests and put a spotlight on police killings of Black citizens across the U.S.

During a traffic stop in July 2023, troopers informed Cobb he was wanted for another offense and they planned to arrest him, according to the criminal complaint. Londregan shot Cobb after he put the car in gear and took his foot off the brake, the complaint said.

Upon announcing charges, prosecutors said they believed Londregan failed to follow his training against firing into a moving vehicle.

But since then, a trainer of state troopers said officers were never instructed to refrain from shooting into a moving vehicle, only that it was best practice, prosecutors said in a statement.

Additionally, in a pre-trial hearing in April, defense attorneys told the court Londregan was prepared to testify he saw Cobb reach for his gun, the statement said.

Those two developments led the state to dismiss the case, the statement said.

“Ricky Cobb II should still be alive today,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in the statement. “The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing a person of any wrongdoing.”

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Christopher Cushing)