Crime, Law and Justice

Investigation into State Patrol killing of Ricky Cobb II goes to prosecutors

A woman holds a sign at a rally
A woman raises a poster demanding justice for Ricky Cobb II during a Justice for All Stolen Lives March in St. Paul on Aug. 20.
Tim Evans | MPR News

Updated 5 p.m.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office says it’s now reviewing the findings of an investigation into the July 31 fatal shooting of a Black man by a Minnesota state trooper along Interstate 94 in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has turned over its report on the shooting of Ricky Cobb II, and prosecutors will now review those findings as they weigh whether to file charges in the case, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement Tuesday.

She added that the BCA reported some State Patrol employees refused to cooperate in the state investigation.

“These are individuals who are not the subject of the investigation but may have relevant information,” Moriarty wrote. “We are disappointed by this lack of cooperation as the family, the community and the troopers involved in this incident all deserve answers.”

Moriarty said her office has identified an independent use-of-force expert to be a part of the review of the BCA’s findings.

She said she met with Cobb’s family after learning Monday that the BCA findings would soon be turned over to her office. “I hear the community calls for an immediate charging decision, but I also know that rushing can lead to mistakes,” she wrote.

In response, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association General Counsel Imran Ali, a former assistant Washington County attorney, said in his own statement Tuesday that it’s “unconscionable” for Moriarty to comment on the case before making a charging decision.

“As a former prosecutor, it’s clear her comments run contrary to due process rights. Prosecutors are the ministers of justice, and these statements unethically tip the balance,” Ali said.

Cobb, 33, was fatally shot as he attempted to drive away from a traffic stop involving three state troopers on I-94 north of downtown Minneapolis.

The BCA last month identified trooper Ryan Londregan as the only one of the three to fire his handgun. He and trooper Garrett Erickson were assisting at a traffic stop initiated by trooper Brett Seide.

The BCA previously reported that a handgun was found on the floor behind the center console in Cobb’s car when it was searched after the shooting. The agency said there was no indication Cobb was holding the gun when he was stopped.

Authorities said Seide initiated the traffic stop after seeing Cobb drive by without tail lights. The BCA’s initial account of the incident said the troopers ordered Cobb out of the car after learning he was being sought for a protection order violation.

Cobb’s family and activists have called for the troopers involved to be fired and prosecuted.

Cobb’s relatives also said they planned to sue the trooper who shot him. Family attorney Bakari Sellers said last month that the use of force was not justified.

“I believe it was inappropriate, and Ricky Cobb II should be alive today. We’re going to get to the bottom of what happened. We have faith in the investigation that's going to play out,” Sellers said in August.

An attorney for Londregan previously said the BCA investigation would vindicate the troopers.

In a separate statement later Tuesday, Sellers and other Cobb family attorneys said they are “disappointed and deeply troubled” about the alleged refusal of some State Patrol troopers to cooperate with the investigation.

“Accountability is coming no matter how hard you try to hide,” the attorneys wrote.

At an Aug. 18 rally and news conference outside the federal courthouse in Minneapolis, the attorneys said that they plan to sue the Minnesota State Patrol.