UNITED STATES NEWS

Family of a Black man killed during a Minnesota traffic stop asks the governor to fire troopers

Aug 2, 2023, 3:51 PM | Updated: 5:14 pm

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Racial justice groups and relatives of a Black man shot and killed this week by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper demanded Wednesday that the governor fire three officers who were involved in stopping the man on a Minneapolis freeway.

The groups and relatives of 33-year-old Ricky Cobb II made the demands at a news conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, two days after Cobb was killed during a traffic stop.

Troopers had pulled over Cobb, who was Black, for a traffic stop early Monday on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis. Body and dash cam video from the state patrol shows the taillights were out on the Ford Fusion Cobb was driving.

According to the head of the Minnesota State Patrol, after stopping the car the troopers tried to take Cobb into custody for allegedly violating a restraining order before fatally shooting him as he began driving away.

Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, The Racial Justice Network, Black Lives Matter Minnesota, and Cobb’s relatives gathered at the government center to demand that Democratic Gov. Tim Walz fire the state troopers who were involved in Cobb’s death and that Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty charge the officers in the case and issue a warrant for their arrests.

“The circumstances simply did not require the use of deadly force. Those officers acted recklessly and they must be held accountable,” Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and founder of the Racial Justice Network, said in the statement.

Cobb’s mother, Nyra Fields-Miller, described the pain she has endured after her son’s death.

“I’m exhausted. My heart is heavy every day for the last three days. Waking up, I have migraines. And I’m hurt,” Fields-Miller said. “I would like those officers to man up.”

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press about the family’s demand that Walz fire the troopers.

But Walz said earlier Wednesday on X, the social platform formerly called Twitter, that he had offered his condolences to Cobb’s mother and “assured her that a swift, thorough investigation has already begun and that we will do everything we can to get to the bottom of what happened.”

On Monday, the troopers who checked Cobb’s license found what Patrol Chief Col. Matt Langer called a “pick up and hold” on Cobb, meaning the nearby Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office suspected he committed a felony violation of a protection order and wanted to question him.

Langer said troopers checked to make sure Ramsey County deputies still wanted Cobb in custody, then tried to get him to leave the car.

When troopers opened his doors and attempted to pull him out, Cobb began driving with two troopers still hanging out the sides of the car, body and dash camera footage shows. A trooper then shot him as he drove away.

The Hennepin County coroner ruled Cobb’s death a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating. Three troopers have been placed on administrative leave, per State Patrol policy.

Moriarty said in a statement Tuesday that her “heart goes out to Mr. Cobb’s family.” She noted previous deaths caused by police.

“I also know this community continues to navigate the trauma and grief that results from police violence and the tragic loss of our community members at the hands of law enforcement, no matter the circumstances,” she said. “And I know that our community wants answers. We will work as swiftly as possible to provide them.”

In May 2020, the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police sparked a global protest movement and a nationwide reckoning on racism in policing.

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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 Trisha Ahmed on Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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Family of a Black man killed during a Minnesota traffic stop asks the governor to fire troopers