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Trooper charged in fatal shooting of Black motorist to make first court appearance Monday

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Minnesota State Trooper Ryan Londregan is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday afternoon after he was charged last week with murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of motorist Ricky Cobb II.

Londregan will appear in Hennepin County District Court at 1:15 p.m.

He has remained out of custody since Wednesday when Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty filed charges of second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault, and second-degree manslaughter in the July 31 shooting of Cobb, 33, of Plymouth. Moriarty said her office is not seeking bail, rather conditions of supervised release for Londregan.

It’s unclear if the judge will order Londregan to be booked today for a mugshot or fingerprints.

Judge Jean Burdorf will preside over the first appearance, but the case is assigned to Judge Tamara Garcia, who will preside over all future court appearances.

Troopers pulled Cobb over on Interstate 94 for driving without taillights around 2 a.m.. They attempted to remove him from the vehicle after learning he’d been accused of violating a standing domestic order for protection.

Londregan, 27, who has less than two years of law enforcement experience, shot Cobb, 33, about 2:15 a.m. July 31 during a traffic stop on Interstate 94 in north Minneapolis for driving without taillights. Troopers had tried placing Cobb under arrest for violating a domestic order for protection and attempted to remove him from the vehicle. As Cobb shifted into drive and took his foot off the brake, the car started moving, dragging another trooper and Londregan shot Cobb from the passenger side.

Londregan became a trooper trainee in February 2021 and was appointed seven months later, according to his public employee file. He remains on paid leave, according to the agency.

Defense attorney Chris Madel filed motions Wednesday asking to dismiss charges against Londregan because the trooper used deadly force to protect himself and a fellow trooper who was dragged by Cobb’s vehicle as it lurched forward during the stop.

Moriarty said when announcing the charges that the use-of-force was not justified and Londregan violated trooper policy.

The State Patrol’s general orders of operation prohibit shooting at moving vehicles, except when deadly force is authorized. It says that firearms shall not be used “when there is substantial risk to the safety of other persons, including risks associated with vehicle crashes.”

Troopers “should make every effort not to place themselves in a position that would increase the possibility that the vehicle they are approaching can be used as a deadly weapon against them or others,” the policy states.

Fleeing, in itself, is not cause for deadly force, said Greg Hestness, former deputy chief of the Minneapolis Police Department and retired chief of the University of Minnesota Police Department.

In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect only if the officer believes the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

Troopers rarely use deadly force. The only other killing by a trooper in recent years happened in April 2022. Megan Boser, a four-year member with the State Patrol, and Dale Haberer, with the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, shot Charles Bangs, 59, outside of Bowlus, Minn.

Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said that shooting was justified because Bangs was armed with a gun and pointed it at Boser. He cleared officers of any criminal liability.

The BCA said early on that at no point was Cobb seen holding a gun, although one was later recovered on the floor behind the center console.

Return to startribune.com for updates to this developing story.

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