Crime, Law and Justice

Bodycam video shows tense moments as troopers confront, fatally shoot man along I-94

A photo of a screen playing a body cam video
A screenshot from a body-worn camera shows Minnesota state troopers responding to a traffic stop, shown during a Department of Public Safety press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Content warning: MPR News has linked to body camera footage from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety below. It contains violent material and viewer discretion is advised.

Updated Aug. 2, 10:50 a.m. | Posted Aug. 1, 4:12 p.m.

Body camera and squad car video released Tuesday by the Minnesota State Patrol showed the chaotic moments early Monday morning as troopers struggled to pull a driver out of his car and take him into custody along Interstate 94 in Minneapolis.

That driver — 33-year-old Ricky Cobb II, who was Black — was killed by a trooper. The case is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as Cobb’s family mourns his death and seeks answers about what happened.

With the car doors open on both sides and a trooper yelling for the man to get out of the car, the video shows the driver speeding off, tossing the troopers to the ground. Before the trooper on the passenger side falls, he appears to fire several shots into the car.

The troopers get in their squads and give chase. Roughly 30 seconds later they come upon the vehicle moving slowly by the Jersey barriers. They box it against the median near the 42nd Avenue bridge over the interstate and come out guns drawn before realizing the man — later identified as Cobb — has been shot. They call for paramedics.

Cobb died at the scene, from what the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said were multiple gunshot wounds.

Cobb’s family took part in a rally outside the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul on Tuesday, after a pastor said they had been allowed to see the video from the incident.

a sad woman looks down and stands in front of a microphone
Nyra Fields-Miller, mother of Ricky T. Cobb II
Matt Sepic | MPR News

“I’m hurting so incredibly bad, for my heart, my soul and my body,” Cobb’s mother, Nyra Fields-Miller, said at the rally. “The impact it has on his children, his siblings, is devastating. It’s very devastating.”

Another rally is planned for Saturday at the Minnesota Capitol.

Col. Matt Langer, head of the State Patrol, declined substantial comment beyond the videos on Tuesday, noting that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the incident. He and Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson offered condolences to Cobb’s family. The two officials showed the video to Cobb’s family earlier in the day.

“This is just a tremendously sad situation. It’s sad from every perspective and for everyone involved,” Langer told reporters before releasing the videos.

Langer declined to say if a gun was found, citing the ongoing investigation. However, he did say the after watching the videos, he believed the situation “very clearly meets the threshold for the use of deadly force.”

On Wednesday, a Department of Public Safety spokesperson said Langer had not meant to imply that use of deadly force was justified, only that the actions met a threshold where State Patrol rules require an investigation.

Cobb was pulled over by a trooper just before 2 a.m. on Monday because the car’s tail lights were not visible, Langer said.

Three people stand at a press conference
Minnesota Department of Public Safety Director of Communications Howie Padilla (left) introduces Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson and State Patrol Chief Colonel Matt Langer press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Troopers, he said, found Cobb was wanted in Ramsey County in connection with allegedly violating an order for protection — a “felony level violation” and attempted to take him into custody. It was not a warrant, Langer said, it was a “pickup and hold” request from Ramsey County authorities.

All Things Considered: Troopers confront, shoot man along I-94

In the video, Cobb can be heard saying he’d call his attorney and asking if there was a warrant out. The trooper says no as he asks him to step out of the car and then asks Cobb to hand over the car keys, saying he’d explain it to Cobb once he stepped out of the vehicle.

Seconds later, the troopers open the car doors on both sides.

“They simply asked him to get out of the car, and they had a lawful reason to do so,” Langer said.

A spokesperson for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it had issued an alert to Minnesota law enforcement for the apprehension of Cobb and that he wanted for violating an order for protection, a felony.

The “attempt to locate” alert asked any police that encountered him to detain him and contact Ramsey County.

A police report on the incident said Ramsey County deputies had been looking for him since last Wednesday, when they had been called to an apartment building in Vadnais Heights on a complaint about the alleged violation of the order.

a group of people pray
Family and friends of Ricky Cobb II pray during a rally outside the Minnesota Governor’s Residence in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, whose office would likely receive the results of the BCA investigation to make a decision on whether to file criminal charges in the case, issued a statement Tuesday offering condolences to Cobb’s family.

“I know they are devastated and will feel his loss for the rest of their lives,” Moriarty wrote. “I also know this community continues to navigate the trauma and grief that results from police violence and the tragic loss of our community members at the hands of law enforcement, no matter the circumstances. And I know that our community wants answers. We will work as swiftly as possible to provide them.”

“The investigation is ongoing, including interviewing of witnesses, and I have asked the BCA to prioritize the investigation. We remain in communication with the BCA to make sure they gather the information we will need to make a decision. Once the case is submitted to us for review, we will use all the resources available to analyze the evidence and make a charging decision as quickly as possible,” Moriarty wrote, declining further comment while the investigation is underway.

Correction (Aug. 2, 2023): A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the source of the body camera footage. The story has been updated.