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When Ricky Cobb II was killed during a stop by Minnesota state troopers in July 2023, there was an outpouring of compassion for Cobb's family, including his children and mother. Now, that compassion is being directed to the officer who killed Cobb, state trooper Ryan Londregan.

A police union, state officials and the Minnesota congressional delegation have all come to Londregan's defense after he was charged with assault and manslaughter ("Credibility on trial in trooper's case," editorial, March 23). Gov. Tim Walz, who once visited with Cobb's family, now says he has "concerns" over the charges and is considering taking the case away from Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.

Lost in this furor is the Cobb family, which only wants justice for a loved one.

Moriarty was elected on a platform of police accountability. Having myself spent time working on police misconduct cases in a prosecutor's office, it is clear that Moriarty is perfectly within her right to charge Londregan. According to the footage, the trooper shot and killed Cobb while performing a routine traffic stop. Londregan discharged his firearm while Cobb tried to drive away. Cobb was unarmed and Londregan's life was not in danger, as evidenced by the way in which he fell to the ground and quickly got back up to pursue Cobb when he drove off.

Many may watch the video and conclude that Cobb should have listened to the officers and not driven off, but such a decision does not merit deadly use of force.

Whatever the merits of Cobb's choices, he did not deserve a death sentence or anything close to it. It is therefore justifiable to prosecute Londregan for manslaughter, a different legal standard from homicide. Moriarty is not saying that Londregan deliberately killed Cobb, but that he made a foolish decision that resulted in the death of a young Black man.

The current controversy over the case is one manufactured by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officer's Association, which wrote to Walz demanding that he reassign the case. (The same association criticized Walz when he met with and expressed condolences to Cobb's mother.) The argument is that Moriarty allegedly ignored a use-of-force expert who said that Londregan acted within department policy. The Police Association knows that Moriarty is legally prohibited from challenging these claims in the court of public opinion, but even if they are true, they are certainly not grounds to remove her from the case. The use-of-force expert is just one witness in what is likely to be a lengthy and complex trial. His opinion does not represent a final decision on the case.

The Police Association is doing what every police union does by using its political influence and public profile to protect its members from accountability. But it is disappointing to see so many elected officials echo what is essentially Londregan's lawyer's legal tactic to have the case thrown out. In doing so, they are undermining a core principle of our legal system — that there be one standard of justice. In truth, Black Minnesotans know that if one of their community members was on trial for homicide, there would not be the same outcry from the Minnesota political elite.

Indeed, Londregan and his allies are taking advantage of a recent political phenomenon, by employing MAGAttorney tactics. MAGA conservatives have long sought to undermine prosecutors who hold police accountable and pursue reforms aimed at reducing racial disparities by characterizing them as "woke" and "pro-criminal." Sadly, as is the case here, Democrats have begun parroting MAGA talking points on public safety and policing.

The killing of another Black man by police in Minnesota is a tragedy, and Cobb's family deserves justice. Walz should not interfere to protect police officers from accountability. The right place for procedural arguments about witnesses and use-of-force policies is in the courtroom, not in the governor's mansion.

Michael Collins is the senior director for state and local government affairs at Color Of Change. He previously served as policy director in the Office of the Baltimore City State's Attorney.