Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said Sunday that she will dismiss murder and manslaughter charges against state trooper Ryan Londregan in the shooting death of motorist Ricky Cobb II last summer.

Moriarty told the Star Tribune that her unexpected decision comes in response to a prosecution expert's new analysis of video from the scene and recent statements by Londregan's defense attorney.

In a court hearing in April, attorney Chris Madel said the 27-year-old trooper feared for his partner's life because he believed Cobb was reaching for Londregan's gun. Moriarty said the defense team had not previously raised this legal claim.

She said prosecutors and the law enforcement expert reviewed the video and found that as Londregan's partner clung to the passenger's door of Cobb's car, Cobb lifted his hand and "you can't see very clearly" what he's doing.

Moriarty cited the expert, who said the video reveals "horrible, horrible, horrible" tactics displayed by the troopers. But it shows Londregan used lawful force in the moment because he "could have shot to prevent great bodily harm or death" to his partner, Moriarty said.

"We could theoretically prosecute this and just let the jury decide," she said. "However, we ethically can't do that because we don't believe at this point that we can disprove that affirmative defense."

"This is not a situation of us backing down," Moriarty said, adding that the killing last week of Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell did not influence her decision.

"It is a situation of recognizing that, given all the barriers that are put in place in these types of cases and the new information that came up, we just can't ethically go forward."

Bakari Sellers, an attorney representing Cobb's family, said the family could not be more disappointed in the prosecutors.

"They got bullied. There's no other way around it," Sellers said. "There was a unique display of cowardice."

Londregan's attorney was similarly succinct in his response Sunday.

"It's about goddamn time," Madel said. "That's going to be about my only on-the-record comment."

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association continued to criticize Moriarty even as it celebrated her decision. In a statement, Brian Peters called the decision to charge Londregan "political." Imran Ali, the association's general counsel and a former Washington County prosecutor, said in a statement that "damage" from the case will continue.

"This prosecutor divided our communities all in the name of politics," Ali's statement read. "Shame on you, Mary Moriarty."

The case was also marked with prosecutorial shake-ups as Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Joshua Larson stepped aside and was replaced by outside counsel from Steptoe LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based international law firm with a contract that included an initial $1 million billing cap for its services.

In a report issued Sunday, the special counsel recommended that charges be dismissed, and Moriarty said she agreed.

The nine-page report says that although the troopers' tactics were flawed in that they failed to de-escalate the confrontation, they were "not demonstrably contrary to their training."

"Suffice it to say, the ability of the State to rebut Londregan's justification for his use of deadly force diminished substantially in the months since he was charged," the report says. "As a result, the charges can no longer be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

The decision ends a legal battle that captured headlines across Minnesota and tapped into the intense politics surrounding police use of force in the U.S.

Sellers said nothing has changed in the videos at the core of the case. "They [prosecutors] articulated to us a very strong case today for voluntary manslaughter," Sellers said. "But they were afraid."

Londregan has maintained his innocence since charges were filed in January. Wearing T-shirts and carrying signs calling for the charges to be dropped and Moriarty to be recalled, fellow troopers and other law enforcement supporters arrived by the busload and packed the courthouse before several court hearings.

Before a hearing in April, several supporters briefly clashed with a smaller but vocal contingent demanding justice for Cobb.

Moriarty said she has been at the center of the criticism since she announced the charges and Madel released a video calling her "out of control."

"Open season on law enforcement must end," the defense attorney said at the time. "And it's going to end with this case."

Moriarty, a former public defender, ran for Hennepin County's top prosecutor job after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, campaigning on a promise to hold law-breaking police officers accountable.

In a lengthy interview Sunday, she said this case was never political for her. She criticized Londregan's defense team, police organizations and politicians for making comments that were "really inappropriate, really disrespectful to the family to Ricky Cobb."

They included Gov. Tim Walz, who publicly expressed his concerns of the handling of the case shortly after the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association asked him to have the Attorney General's Office to take over the prosecution.

"The governor has never reached out to me," Moriarty said. "I don't recall him ever intervening in the case of anyone on behalf of the person who's charged."

Asked if she believed Walz was preparing to take the case away from her, Moriarty said it was possible.

"Who knows, right? And that would be tragic," she said. "I mean, I am capable of doing my job. I am doing it here, right? It will probably have some political consequences for me, but as I've always said, the people didn't elect me to make political decisions. They elected me to make courageous ethical decisions."

Walz said in a statement Sunday that he supported Moriarty's decision.

"This decision is supported by the evidence and multiple expert opinions," he said. "While I have expressed some serious reservations about the approach taken and the cost of this prosecution, this is clearly the right call."

The charges against Londregan stemmed from a traffic stop on Interstate 94 in north Minneapolis on July 31, 2023, when other troopers pulled over Cobb for driving without taillights and learned he was wanted for violating a domestic no-contact order.

Cobb, 33, refused commands to exit his vehicle and instead shifted it into drive. With Londregan and a colleague partly inside, trying to remove Cobb, the car lurched forward. That's when Londregan fired his service weapon, striking Cobb twice.

Moriarty said she charged Londregan based on the evidence available at the time and that the judge affirmed there was probable cause to proceed with the case.

She said the defense refused several invitations from her office to discuss what Londregan would say in court, and other witnesses were uncooperative with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation.

She said the prosecution was caught off guard when Madel commented in the courtroom about fears Cobb was reaching for a gun.

Moriarty said there is still no evidence he intended to grab Londregan's gun, but the statements caused prosecutors to reconsider the evidence through a new lens.

"They could have told us that before we charged it, they could have told us that at any time," she said. "And that is information that we would have considered — and obviously have considered."

Star Tribune reporters Kim Hyatt, Liz Sawyer and Josie Albertson-Grove contributed to this story.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story should have made clear that Londregan believed that Ricky Cobb II was reaching for the trooper's gun.