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Family of Black motorist Ricky Cobb II wants DOJ to investigate after charges dropped against trooper who fatally shot him

By Andy Rose and Christina Maxouris, CNN

(CNN) — The criminal charges against a Minnesota state trooper who fatally shot a Black motorist during a traffic stop in Minneapolis last year are being dropped, the lead prosecutor announced Sunday, sparking fierce criticism from the victim’s family, who said they were outraged and want federal officials to investigate.

“I have made the decision that our office will no longer pursue charges against Minnesota State Trooper Londregan for the killing of Mr. Cobb,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in an open letter to the community.

Trooper Ryan Londregan was charged in January with second-degree murder and other charges in the July 2023 fatal shooting of Ricky Cobb II, a Black man who was pulled over in his vehicle on I-94 for not having his taillights on at night.

Londregan, who is White, ordered Cobb to get out of his car after determining he was wanted in a neighboring county. Cobb refused and was shot during a physical altercation when Londregan and another trooper attempted to enter the vehicle and grab Cobb.

Londregan was charged with second-degree murder in January, but Moriarty said Monday she did not believe prosecutors could convict him at trial.

“Make no mistake, Ricky Cobb was the victim in this case. Ricky Cobb should be alive today,” she said in a news conference.

The county attorney said their confidence in being able to get a conviction changed after new information emerged last week. Moriarty said they learned Londregan planned to argue he fired because he thought Cobb was attempting to take the trooper’s gun away from him.

“The video doesn’t prove that, and it doesn’t disprove what Londregan says,” Moriarty said at the news conference.

In addition, Londregan’s trainer provided a declaration saying he didn’t train the trooper to refrain from pulling people out of a running car, Moriarty wrote in her letter.

She said Monday she feared a judge would dismiss the case before it got to trial. “We do not believe we would have even made it to the jury,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty said her office had produced a 60-page report on the case, but it cannot be released without a judge’s approval. “This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.

The reversal comes a month after Moriarty hired a DC-based private law firm to handle the case, saying her office was understaffed.

Londregan’s attorney Peter Wold praised the decision to drop charges. “A new set of lawyers from the prosecution took a look at the case and reached the appropriate conclusion. It should have happened months ago,” he told CNN on Monday.

Londregan’s defense was provided by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. In a statement, executive director Brian Peters said, “Trooper Londregan should have never been charged, and we are glad this political case is over. Enough is enough.”

Family to ask Justice Department to investigate Minnesota State Patrol

In a Tuesday news conference, family attorney Bakari Sellers apologized to Cobb’s family, saying he led them to have faith in how local prosecutors would handle the case, but said “that faith was misplaced and we stand here today frustrated, we stand here today … outraged.”

Sellers said Cobb’s family was notified by the county attorney’s office Sunday afternoon, and were told to “hurry down” to a meeting that day, where prosecutors shared their decision.

Sellers said they are now working on drafting a letter asking federal officials – including the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division – to investigate the shooting and the Minnesota State Patrol.

“I believe that every citizen of Minnesota should be concerned now knowing that these officers go out on the streets, put themselves in danger, and do so untrained,” the attorney said, standing alongside Cobb’s family members.

“All of us standing up here today, we want more African Americans to be a part of law enforcement, we want our law enforcement to be trained, we want law enforcement to be prayed for, and most importantly, we want them to be able to go out and do their job and come home safely every night,” Sellers said.

“But what we also want is for individuals like Ricky Cobb II, whose only crime was apparently not having his tail light on at night, to be able to come home as well.”

Cobb’s mother, who also spoke during Tuesday’s news conference, described him as an “excellent son,” a father who had aspirations, and she pleaded: “Make it make sense.”

In an earlier statement this week, family attorneys said they were disappointed in the county attorney’s decision but not surprised because “like many, we have come to expect the absence of justice and accountability when Black lives are lost in this country.”

“Apparently, all you have to do to get away with murder is to bully the prosecutors enough and the charges will just go away. The people don’t believe the excuses and neither do we,” attorneys Sellers, Harry Daniels and F. Clayton Tyler previously said in a Monday statement.

Cobb’s family filed a federal lawsuit in April against Londregan and the other trooper involved in the incident. Londregan filed a motion last month asking a judge to dismiss the suit.

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