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Prosecutors to dismiss charges against Minnesota trooper who shot motorist Ricky Cobb

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors plan to dismiss murder and manslaughter charges against a white Minnesota state trooper who fatally shot Ricky Cobb II, a Black motorist, as Cobb tried to pull away from a traffic stop, saying the decision comes in response to recent statements from the trooper’s attorney and new analysis of video from the scene.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty filed a notice to dismiss the charges after Trooper Ryan Londregan’s defense team revealed prospective testimony during an April court hearing that the trooper believed Cobb was reaching for a firearm — and that a Minnesota State Patrol trainer said he never instructed officers to refrain from shooting into a moving vehicle.

The evidence would have made it impossible for prosecutors to prove that Londregan’s actions were not an authorized use of force by a peace officer, the county attorney’s office said in a statement released Sunday.

Referring to the decision to drop the charges, Londregan’s attorney, Chris Madel, told the Star Tribune, “It’s about goddamn time. That’s going to be about my only on the record comment.”

Bakari Sellers, an attorney representing Cobb’s family, told the Star Tribune the family was disappointed with prosecutors.

“They got bullied. There’s no other way around it,” Sellers said.

Londregan, 27, pleaded not guilty May 15 in the death of Cobb, and his trial was set to begin Sept. 9.

Troopers pulled the 33-year-old Cobb over on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis last July 31 because the lights were out on his car. They then found that the Spring Lake Park man was wanted for violating a protection order in neighboring Ramsey County. Londregan shot Cobb twice as Cobb tried to drive away after troopers ordered him to get out of his car.

Prosecutors and a law enforcement expert reviewed footage from the scene and found that, as Londregan’s partner clung to the passenger’s door, Cobb moved his hand upward. Cobb did have a gun in the vehicle. Moriarty told the Star Tribune there is still no evidence he intended to grab it but that the defense team’s statements caused prosecutors to reconsider the evidence through a new lens.

“They could have told us that before we charged it, they could have told us that at any time,” she said. “And that is information that we would have considered — and obviously have considered.”

Law enforcement and Republican leaders had been calling on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to take the case away from Moriarty, a former public defender who was elected on a platform of police accountability following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer in 2020, and turn it over to Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison. Walz had expressed concern about the direction of the case but had not acted.

Cobb’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in April, alleging that the stop and the shooting were unjustified.

Moriarty plans to hold a news conference Monday morning to discuss her decision to dismiss the charges in more detail.