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The Minnesota Prosecutor Didn’t Want to Drop the Murder Charge Against the Cop, but in the End They Did


Minnehaha, Iowa — A progressive Minnesota prosecutor who ran on a platform of holding police accountable has reluctantly dropped charges against a state cop who shot and killed a Black man during a traffic stop.

Even the state’s Democratic governor had harsh words for Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty for months about her choice to charge Trooper Ryan Londregan with killing Ricky Cobb II last summer. On Monday, she stuck to her original decision. She says that new information makes it hard to prove the case.

Moriarty won almost 58% of the vote in 2022. He had been the county’s top public defender before. It’s never easy to charge police officers with crimes, even in the same county where Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd in 2020.

Moriarty said she still thinks charging Londregan was the right thing to do based on the information she had at the time. But she said that the case could not be proven because of new information from the State Patrol supporting claims that he was following his training and a new defense claim that Londregan thought Cobb was going for Londregan’s gun. So, on Sunday, she filed papers to get rid of it.

Moriarty said, “The people of Hennepin County elected me to make moral and brave decisions.” “This is the kind of county attorney that everyone wanted—not one who made plans based on politics.”

The firing comes at a time when public safety concerns have made people more angry, and progressive district attorneys and candidates have lost in a number of liberal areas across the country.

Nathan Vasquez, a moderate candidate for DA in Oregon’s Multnomah County, beat out Mike Schmidt, a progressive lawyer, last month. Vasquez had promised to be tough on crime. A recall election for District Attorney Pamela Price was set for last month in San Francisco by the supervisors of Alameda County. Price, like Moriarty, ran on a platform of rehabilitating criminals and holding cops accountable. Price took over for Chesa Boudin, who was also a progressive lawyer and was recalled by voters earlier in 2022.

Gov. Tim Walz said that Moriarty “made the right choice” in the end and that it was clear that “there were problems in this prosecution from the start.”

Moriarty said Walz got involved in the case, but Walz denied it. He also told reporters that if Moriarty hadn’t dropped the charges, he would have used his power to take the case from her and give it to the attorney general’s office. He said that these powers give a “safety net” that “allows an egregious situation like this to be fixed.”

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association ran a well-known campaign to get Walz to take the case from Moriarty. They said Walz’s comments about her choice were “unhinged” and “filled with vengeance.” It didn’t take long for Republicans to say again that Londregan should not have been charged.

Susan Gaertner, who used to be the Democratic prosecutor for Ramsey County, said that this case shows how the criminal justice system has become more political.

As a candidate, the prosecutor was very clear about what her goals were and what she planned to do as she took office. One of those goals was for the police to be accountable, Gaertner said in an interview. “In this case, it looks like she made a good faith choice to charge the person, but when she learned more, she dropped the charges.” It was the right thing to do. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure.

Cobb, who is 33 years old, was pulled over on July 31 on Interstate 94 because his car’s lights were out. They found that the man from Spring Lake Park was wanted for breaking a no-contact order with a domestic partner in Ramsey County, which is close by. Londregan showed up to help. Cobb put the car into drive and took his foot off the brake while the police told him to get out. Londregan pulled out his gun as Cobb’s car slowly moved forward. Cobb stopped. He yelled at Cobb to leave while pointing his gun at him. While another trooper’s body was still in the car, Cobb took his foot off the brake again. Then Londregan shot Cobb twice, hitting him in the chest both times.

Cobb raised his hand right before Londregan shot him, as seen on video from his body camera. The defense said in April that the video doesn’t prove or disprove the claim that Cobb was trying to reach for his service weapon. However, Moriarty agreed that it doesn’t prove or disprove it either. She said the prosecutors didn’t know that this claim would be so important to Londregan’s case before she made it.

Moriarty also used new comments from State Patrol training officials, which were included in the defense case, to show that the trooper did what he was taught to do. She said it was harder to prove the case.

Moriarty said that the prosecutors showed all of that to an expert on the use of force, who told them that they would lose the trial. She also said that the judge might have thrown out the case before even sending it to the jury.

Moriarty knew from the beginning that Londregan would say he used deadly force to protect himself, and he has known since April that the defense would say Cobb reached for Londregan’s gun. Londregan’s lawyer, Chris Madel, held his own violent news conference.

Madel said, “This county attorney was dying to bring charges against a police officer.” “She couldn’t wait for something like this to happen.” For her to now say, ‘Oh my gosh, we had no idea the defense was hiding this great evidence,’ is just plain silly, he said.

Londregan was released on his own recognizance, but he is still on paid leave while the State Patrol looks into what happened. Madel said Londregan wants to go back to being a police officer, even though some family members don’t want him to.

Moriarty asked the State Patrol to make a number of changes that would cut down on the use of deadly force. She said that the cops at the scene had better ways to help Cobb get out of his car than to lean into it. They just “bungled” their chances. Instead of just telling Cobb to get out of the car, they could have told him that they were going to arrest him. She said they knew where to find him, so they could have just let him drive off. They could have also put stop sticks under his car.

The State Patrol did not respond to her suggestions. As of Sunday night, the Patrol said in a statement that it couldn’t say much because of the case Cobb’s family filed in April.

Cobb’s family’s lawyers said they were sad about the result but not surprised by it.

“The simple fact is that, no matter how many ridiculous excuses Trooper Londregan gives to try and get out of responsibility, he shot and killed Ricky Cobb II at point blank range for no reason, and the County Attorney’s Office has given in to political pressure to drop the murder charges,” the family’s lawyers said in a statement.

It seems that all you have to do to get away with murder is threaten the judges enough times, and the charges will be dropped, the lawyers said. “Neither we nor the people believe the excuses.”

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