One day after body camera footage was released in the fatal shooting of a Black motorist by a Minnesota state trooper, legal experts say that what's depicted on video shows nothing conclusive about whether lethal force was justified — or might result in future criminal charges.

"I don't know how anyone, from a legal perspective, could be definitive at this point," said former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

Ricky Cobb II, 33, died of multiple gunshot wounds in north Minneapolis early Monday, shortly after being pulled over for driving without taillights. During the stop, troopers learned that Cobb was wanted for questioning in relation to an alleged "felony-level violation" of a standing domestic order for protection in Ramsey County.

Squad and body camera video depicts three troopers attempting to order Cobb out of the vehicle along Interstate 94. He resisted instructions and repeatedly questioned why he was being detained. Less than a minute later, they forced open the doors and a trooper on the passenger side of the vehicle fired as Cobb's hand moved toward the gear shift. The car rolled forward, knocking down two troopers.

"By law, they have every right to order you out of the vehicle," said David Thomas, a national use-of-force expert and professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. "But being a Black man, I also understand the apprehension of not wanting to exit the car."

An examination of the video footage left legal observers with lingering questions. It's not clear whether the vehicle began moving before or after the trooper fired multiple rounds.

Thomas, a retired Florida police officer, questioned why one trooper lunged into the passenger's side with his gun drawn — putting his partner in the line of fire — when another trooper on the driver's side seemed to "have it under control."

"That wouldn't be a position I'd want to put myself in," he said. When asked if this case might result in criminal charges, Thomas surmised that it will depend on a multitude of factors, including how much political pressure is placed on elected officials.

"This one is a crapshoot," he said.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the shooting — as it does with nearly all critical use-of-force incidents committed by Minnesota law enforcement. The state agency will eventually report its findings to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, who will be tasked with deciding whether lethal force was justified.

Cobb's case reignited public debate about when an officer should be permitted to use deadly force in response to a perceived threat — and whether they resort to such measures too quickly. That split-second decision can be inherently subjective, experts say, but must be seen as "objectively reasonable" to save themselves or others from death or grave bodily harm.

"A rush to judgment after a fatal shooting often occurs, but the county attorney's decision needs to be made much more carefully," said Gaertner, who cautioned the public against drawing any firm conclusions based on a single body camera video.

For many, Cobb's death evoked similar high-profile fatal encounters between Black motorists and Twin Cities law enforcement that drew intense protests, including the shooting deaths of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights and Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.

The defense for Kimberly Potter, the former officer who was convicted of manslaughter in Wright's 2021 death after she mistakenly pulled her service gun instead of her Taser, argued unsuccessfully that she was legally justified in using deadly force because her partner might have been seriously injured if Wright had sped off, dragging the officer with him.

The trooper involved in Cobb's case is likely to lodge a similar defense, alleging they had a reasonable fear for their safety, said Mitchell Hamline School of Law professor T. Anansi Wilson.

"When does that rise to the level of taking someone's life?" Wilson said, noting that officers should also be conscious of the motorist's perspective.

"Looking through the eyes of a Black citizen in this community, being surrounded on all sides by officers," it is reasonable that Cobb felt some level of anxiety and may have wanted to flee, he said.

On Wednesday night, around 40 community activists joined Cobb's family for a rally outside the Hennepin County Government Center to demand that the unnamed trooper be fired and criminally charged.

Marcia Howard, a civil-rights activist at George Floyd Square, said she thinks the footage makes it clear that police were wrong in killing Cobb. "This story stinks to high heaven; everyone who has seen the video and knows the circumstances of Ricky Cobb II's murder knows this: He was unjustly killed," Howard said.

The case has also drawn the ire of Democratic politicians like U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who condemned the video as "deeply troubling."

"I'm heartbroken by another senseless loss of life," he wrote. "Law enforcement is a very difficult and risky job, but shootings like this are unjustifiable and more must be done to prevent them."

In response, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association released a statement urging caution before rushing to judgment.

"We ask everyone, including elected officials, to let the investigation and legal process continue without interruption or influence," wrote Imran Ali, a former Washington County attorney who now serves as the organization's general counsel. "Comments by elected officials only undermine the importance of due process and our rule of law."

In a brief interview, Ali criticized Phillips for characterizing the shooting as "unjustifiable" — a legal conclusion that can only be made after examining the entire case file.

Gov. Tim Walz also weighed in on the case for the first time Wednesday, saying that he spoke with with Cobb's mother, Nyra Fields-Miller, and promised her a "transparent, thorough and fast investigation."

"'We want answers, we want you to do it right,'" he recalled her saying. "'We want to trust that this is being done the way it should be.'"

Staff writers Louis Krauss and Christopher Vondracek contributed to this report.

Correction: Previous versions of this story misstated where David Thomas worked as a police officer. He is a retired Florida officer.