The Minnesota state trooper charged with killing motorist Ricky Cobb II during a traffic stop last summer appeared in court Thursday for arguments over what information his attorneys are entitled to from an independent use-of-force expert.

Hennepin County District Judge Tamara Garcia heard arguments amid escalating tensions between the defense and prosecutors from County Attorney Mary Moriarty's office. Recent developments in the murder case show that the prosecution's independent use-of-force expert gave a preliminary opinion that trooper Ryan Londregan acted reasonably when he shot Cobb as the vehicle lurched forward. And the State Patrol's own use-of-force trainer said in a new affidavit that Londregan didn't violate policy and his statements to prosecutors were taken out of context.

Defense attorneys have subpoenaed the independent expert, Jeffrey Noble, to hand over any records, notes or communications on Londregan. Noble, a former police chief from California, has provided expert testimony in previous police killing cases in Minnesota, including George Floyd and Philando Castile.

Chris Madel, one of Londregan's attorneys, told Garcia that he wants the information directly from Noble because the county attorney's office has made "multiple misrepresentations of fact, including in the criminal complaint itself."

"We're supposed to take their word for what Noble said?" Madel said.

"[Prosecutors] say it's all innocuous. If it's innocuous, why not just produce it to shut me up?" he asked. "The reason they are not doing this is plain."

Madel said that Noble agreed to comply with the subpoena, but Garcia has put the subpoena on pause until she makes a final ruling.

Prosecutors say they've already given the defense all the required information. Assistant County Attorney Joshua Larson urged the court to consider the relevance of the materials and whether the defense's request was "made in good faith and not merely a fishing expedition."

Larson disputed Madel's assertion that Noble's initial written thoughts on the case were his final conclusion. He insisted that the criminal complaint issued by Moriarty's office was "fair and accurate" as written.

Moriarty charged Londregan, 27, with second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault in the fatal shooting of Cobb last July during a traffic stop on Interstate 94 in north Minneapolis.

The charges were filed without the full report from Noble. He wrote that Londregan acted as a reasonable officer would to protect his partner who was being dragged by Cobb's car.

A State Patrol use-of-force training coordinator, Sgt. Jason Halvorson, argued in a newly filed affidavit that Londregan followed his training. Halvorson's statements were included in the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. But he said the prosecutors "lied by omission" when they cherry-picked from his 37-page interview, "thereby purposefully misleading the reader of the complaint."

Moriarty based the complaint on the legal analysis that Londregan violated trooper policy by firing at a moving vehicle. But Halvorson disagreed.

When the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension handed over its investigation to prosecutors, Moriarty said an expert opinion was critical to making her charging decision, but she stopped working with Noble.

Madel accused Moriarty's office of shopping for another expert aligned with her "ideology rather than the facts of the case."

Noble was consulted in 2023 as an expert witness in a St. Paul police deadly use-of-force case. In that case, he concluded that the officers were in "imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury" when they shot and killed 65-year-old Yia Xiong as he wielded a knife.

That analysis helped inform state Attorney General Keith Ellison and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's decision Wednesday to rule the shooting justified and not charge St. Paul officer Abdirahman Dahir.

In light of the Dahir case, Madel disputed previous arguments from Moriarty's office claiming that Noble didn't issue a full opinion on Londregan because he wasn't well-versed in Minnesota's new use-of-force law. The defense attorney said Noble knows the new statute because he cited it in Dahir's case.

The law stipulates that a threat must meet a three-pronged threshold to warrant deadly force: It can be articulated with "specificity"; it's "reasonably likely to occur" if the officer doesn't act; and it must be addressed through "deadly force without unreasonable delay."

In court Thursday, Londregan sat between his lawyers, eyes fixed ahead, and did not speak during the hourlong hearing. Behind him in the courtroom gallery sat his wife, family and rows of law enforcement supporters.

His next scheduled court appearance is April 29.

Garcia lightly admonished both parties, reiterating her desire that they stop filing so many affidavits, exhibits and motions that don't have an express purpose before court hearings.

"We all want a fair and orderly trial," she said. The case should be prosecuted, Garcia said, "only in this courtroom, not the court of public opinion or the media."

Calls for reassignment

Recent developments in the case are drawing concern from the state's top elected officials of both parties.

Gov. Tim Walz has publicly questioned Moriarty's handling of the case, and Ellison said he is studying the situation. Walz has the authority to intervene and reassign the case to the attorney general, as happened last year with another controversial murder case in Moriarty's office.

Exercising that authority is extremely rare, and Ellison said he wouldn't ask Walz to give him a county attorney's case again. Yet, pressure mounted this week as six of Minnesota's eight-member U.S. House delegation have now called for Walz to reassign the case.

The governor said Monday that he thought he would know more by Thursday's court hearing. However, Garcia didn't make any official rulings during the session, and the expert issue remains in limbo.

"I think there's concerns, there's nuances in this to make sure we're following the law. But no, my position hasn't changed," Walz said Thursday after an event in St. Paul. "I am concerned about this. I am concerned that justice be carried out fairly for everyone. And we'll continue to take a look at it."

Moriarty's office issued a statement after Thursday's hearing encouraging elected officials and others not involved in the case "to take the judge's comments to heart and refrain from creating more confusion by commenting on the ongoing case."

"Their comments disregard the established legal process, politicize the case, threaten the possibility of a fair trial, and ignore that there is a grieving family that is watching this unfold in the press,'' the statement said.