MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Family, lawyers and activists for Ricky Cobb II — who was fatally shot by a Minnesota state trooper in a July 2023 traffic stop — said Thursday that justice for Cobb is within reach now that the trooper has been charged with murder.
The county attorney's office announced the day before that it was charging Trooper Ryan Londregan with second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second-degree manslaughter for using deadly force against Cobb. The 33-year-old Black man was killed after he failed to get out of his car during the traffic stop and took his foot off the brake when officers tried to arrest him on a Minneapolis highway.
Cobb’s twin brother, Rashad Cobb, said at a news conference that he thanks the county attorney’s office in Minneapolis for “taking the time to examine this case and making the right decision."
Harry Daniels, a lawyer for the family, said the case is not about Black people versus white people, or law enforcement versus citizens — it is simply about right versus wrong.
“As this case is being charged, the race component shouldn’t be looked it," Daniels said in an interview after the news conference. "It should be looked at that (Londregan) broke the law. We’ve got to stay consistent as a nation that the laws apply to everyone, not just to one group or another group.”
Some people, including the executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, have said Londregan, 27, did not break the law and is being unjustly charged. Londregan’s attorney, Chris Madel, has called his client a “hero,” saying Londregan was trying to protect himself and a fellow trooper.
Two other troopers had pulled Cobb over on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis on July 31, 2023, when they saw the lights were out on the Ford Fusion that Cobb was driving, according to the criminal complaint.
One of the troopers, Brett Seide, checked Cobb’s record and found he was wanted for violating an order for protection in neighboring Ramsey County. There was no active arrest warrant, but the troopers checked in with Ramsey County officials, who asked that Cobb be arrested.
Londregan arrived and went to Cobb’s passenger door while Seide approached the driver’s side of Cobb’s car, according to the complaint. The troopers asked Cobb to get out of the car, which had its doors locked and front windows down, according to the complaint. Seide told Cobb he was under arrest while Londregan reached inside, unlocked the doors and began opening the passenger door. The complaint said Cobb then shifted the car into drive and took his foot off the brake.
According to the complaint, Cobb’s car began to slowly move forward. Londregan reached for his gun, and Cobb stopped the car. The trooper pointed his gun at Cobb and yelled at him to get out of the car. Cobb took his foot off the brake again. Within less than a second, Londregan fired his handgun twice at Cobb, striking him both times in the chest, the complaint said.
The car accelerated forward while Seide’s torso was still inside. Seide and Londregan tried to keep up with the car for several feet before falling. The car collided with a concrete median about a quarter-mile (400 meters) away. The troopers attempted lifesaving measures, but Cobb died at the scene.
A document filed by the defense says written statements to investigators by Seide and Trooper Garrett Erickson say they believed lethal force was necessary.
“At that time, I knew that Trooper Londregan and I were in danger of being run over by Cobb’s car, being hit by an oncoming car on the highway, or otherwise being dragged away at a high rate of speed,” Seide said.
According to the complaint, State Patrol policy states that troopers shall not fire at a moving vehicle except when deadly force is authorized and that troopers should not put themselves in a position that increases the risk that a vehicle that they’re approaching can be used as a deadly weapon.
The shooting happened in Minneapolis, where the murder of George Floyd by police nearly four years ago sparked global protests on racial justice. In that case, then-officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years for second-degree murder.
Cobb's death also has some similarities to the 2022 death of motorist Daunte Wright, who was trying to drive away from a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center when then-officer Kim Potter shot him. Potter said she meant to use her Taser but accidentally grabbed her gun. She served about 16 months of a two-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter.
Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15