Hennepin County Attorney Moriarty drops charges against Trooper Londregan

In a curiously timed Sunday evening announcement, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty dropped all charges against Minnesota State Trooper Ryan Londregan, relating to the July 2023 use of deadly force against Ricky Cobb II. 

Cobb had been pulled over on a busy metro freeway at 2 a.m. for driving with his lights off. Troopers learned he was wanted by Ramsey County for a felony violation of a domestic abuse no contact order. Cobb, a convicted felon who knew he was armed with a handgun and would likely go to prison if arrested, refused to turn his car off or get out of the vehicle. This required troopers to physically remove him to effect his arrest. 

Trooper Londregan provided armed cover as another trooper attempted to remove Cobb. Instead of cooperate, Cobb chose to put the car in gear and drive away with both troopers partially in his car, throwing the troopers to the pavement. Trooper Londregan fired two rounds at Cobb before being thrown from the vehicle.

In January, the day Moriarty filed murder charges against Trooper Londregan, his defense attorneys made clear in a court filing that Trooper Londregan used deadly force against Cobb to prevent death or great bodily harm to fellow troopers and himself. The justification for deadly force, and the defense Trooper Londregan was citing was known to Moriarty on day one of her prosecution.

Moriarty’s announcement came against the backdrop of a number of unconfirmed reports indicating Governor Walz was poised to step in and transfer the case from Moriarty’s Office to the Attorney General’s Office. If accurate, this would have been the second high profile case Governor Walz removed from Moriarty — the first being the murder case of Zaria McKeever after Moriarty entered into an ridiculously inconsequential plea agreement with the two murders. 

While we don’t know, and may never know, how close Governor Walz was from actually taking action in the Londregan case, Moriarty’s announcement fits the theory that dropping charges minimized damage and embarrassment to Moriarty, while also providing political cover to the Governor by eliminating the need for him to official step in. It’s much like someone being given the choice of resigning or being fired — it’s easier on the employee and the employer.

Moriarty failed to respond to the direct question at the end of her press conference, regarding whether the case was about to be taken from her office.

While the decision to drop charges was the obvious correct decision, Moriarty failed to keep it simple, and in doing so she has needlessly continued to perpetuate the anti law enforcement rhetoric that has fueled so many of our public safety problems in recent years, and has made the work of our law enforcement officers much more difficult and dangerous. 

Moriarty could have clearly and succinctly stated that based on the recommendation of the team hired to prosecute the case, including the opinion of yet another expert on police use of force, she had concluded that the use of deadly force by Trooper Londregan was justified.

She could have also used this opportunity to advocate for cooperating with peace officers and not resisting, fighting, or fleeing – thereby reducing the likelihood of police needing to use force. (Cobb’s death, like nearly all police use of deadly force cases, was brought on by his own refusal to cooperate, and his actions which put the lives of peace officers in danger). 

Instead her press release last night and her press conference this morning continued to point fingers, make excuses, and divide. 

Moriarty claimed her decision was based largely on new information just recently supplied by defense counsel. As noted, Trooper Londregan’s defense was made clear on day one.

Moriarty described the statutory language that carefully limits the use of deadly force by a peace officer as the legal “excuse” officers use to justify deadly force.

Moriarty insinuated, without evidence, that race was a motivating factor in the case. She described herself as someone “who has watched too many killings of black men by law enforcement” — an insinuation that there are racial disparities in police use of deadly force, which is not born out by data.

Moriarty also suggested several times that “systemic barriers” prevented her from prosecuting Trooper Londregan, but didn’t offer much beyond basic due process rights afforded to all Americans. 

Supporters of Trooper Londregan peacefully and quietly rallied at the Hennepin County Government Center during a recent hearing in the case. Moriarty absurdly described the support as reminiscent of “January 6th.”

Moriarty described support for Trooper Londregan and criticism of her prosecution as “scorched earth” tactics.

In the end, Moriarty came across once again as a someone lacking the judgement and temperament to serve as one of Minnesota’s county attorneys.

Moriarty’s actions in the Trooper Londregan case have been deplorable, and have been roundly criticized by among others, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, and by Minnesota’s Republican Congressional House Delegation. See statements below:

“It was clear months ago that Ms. Moriarty was abusing her position to wrongfully charge Trooper Londregan. When she refused to listen to the facts of the case and the law, we asked Governor Walz to step in and remove the case from her jurisdiction. Finally, after many months of unnecessary strife, Ms. Moriarty has come to the same conclusion that the experts did: that Trooper Londregan was completely justified in his use of force to protect his partner’s life. 

We still share the same concerns we expressed to the Governor as well as the House Judiciary Committee about Ms. Moriarty’s active work to demonize law enforcement. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our brave officers from corrupted officials like her.”

Majority Whip Tom Emmer (MN-06), Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08), and Congressman Brad Finstad (MN-01).