Activists and the family of Ricky Cobb II, a Black man who was shot and killed by Minnesota State Patrol troopers during a traffic stop, held a press conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center Wednesday evening, August 2. Cobb’s family demanded that the Minnesota State Patrol fire the three officers who conducted the traffic stop.
Cobb was initially pulled over in the early hours of Monday morning by the state patrol because his taillights were not on. Trooper Brett Seide learned that Cobb had allegedly violated an order of protection and called in troopers Ryan Londregan and Garrett Erickson for backup. After a short conversation between Cobb and the troopers, Seide and Londregan ordered Cobb out of his vehicle and grabbed the doors. Cobb attempted to drive away while the officers held the vehicle and Londregan shot him several times from the passenger side before he and Seide let go of the vehicle. The officers attempted first aid, but Cobb died at the scene.
A search by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) found that Cobb had a handgun on the floor in the backseat, but Cobb did not mention or reach for the firearm at any point during the stop.
Cobb’s mother, Nyra Fields-Miller, called the days since Monday the worst days of her life.”
“My heart is heavy every day for the last three days,” Fields-Miller said. “Waking up, I have migraines. And I’m hurt.”
“I’m weary, I’ve never been so weary in my entire life,” Fields-Miller said.
Cobb’s sister, Octavia Ruffin, said he was “a good man,” despite what was being said about him.
“He was a provider for all of us, he protected all of us,” Ruffin said. “He didn’t do nothing wrong, and I hope and pray that everyone sees that. Despite his past, he learned from it. He was growing to be a better man.”
Nekima Levy Armstrong, a local civil rights lawyer who is active in the racial justice movement, said the slaying of Cobb was not “the first time that the Minnesota State Troopers have unjustifiably killed a black man.”
Nekima spoke of the settlement agreement recently put in place for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and said that she believed that other police departments engaged in patterns of brutality against their community and should be investigated.
“We asked the Department of Justice to investigate the St. Paul police department. We asked them to look into the surrounding suburbs of Minneapolis. We asked them to look into the [Minnesota] state troopers. And for some reason, they only set their sights on [MPD] when the issue is systemic across the state of Minnesota,” Levy-Armstrong said. “We are not safe as Black people in the state of Minnesota and the brutal murder of Ricky Cobb II proves that once again.”
Levy Armstrong said she did not know if training for police departments could solve policing issues for Black Minnesotans.
“I think a big part of the problem is that they are trained a certain way. But when it comes to Black folks, that training seems to go out the window,” Levy Armstrong said. “So it’s hard to know when you can train away the racism that played a role in their decision.”
The BCA’s investigation into the killing of Cobb is ongoing. Upon completion of the investigation, the BCA will forward its findings to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s office. Moriarty released a statement saying her “heart goes out to Mr. Cobb’s family.”
“This is an important decision that impacts everyone in our community, including the family and friends of Ricky Cobb, the troopers who were involved, and our broader community,” Moriarty’s statement read. “I take both police accountability and the integrity of the legal process very seriously. The troopers have been placed on leave and the BCA is investigating the incident.”
A community “Celebration of Black Life Honoring Ricky Cobb II” will take place at George Floyd Square on 38th & Chicago, Saturday, August 5. A pre-event healing space will be open from 1-5 pm, with a rally and candlelight vigil from 5-9 pm.