Two years after fatally shooting a Black teenager as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car, a white Connecticut state trooper has been arrested. The family and supporters of the deceased 19-year-old say they are happy about the arrest but believe they have “a long road ahead” before receiving justice for the college student.
Trooper Brian North, who turned himself in on Tuesday, April 19, shot and killed Mubarak Soulemane on Jan. 15, 2020, in West Haven, Connecticut. The officer fired into the vehicle after a high-speed chase that ended with the teenager boxed in by officers’ cars.
North has been charged by the Inspector General’s office with first-degree manslaughter with a firearm.
The officer released a 133-page document with a summary stating, “the investigation establishes that at the time Trooper North fired his weapon, neither he nor any other person was in imminent danger or serious injury or death from a knife attack at the hands of Soulemane.”
“Further, any belief that persons were in such danger was not reasonable. I, therefore, find that North’s use of deadly force was not justified under Connecticut Law.”
It is alleged the teen, whose family says he suffered from schizophrenia, carjacked a vehicle in Norwalk before troopers chased him down on Interstate 95.
During the pursuit, the young man reportedly hit two state police cruisers and an innocent civilians’ vehicle. When the troopers had the suspect boxed in with their vehicles, they were joined by members of the West Haven police force, who arrived to assist.
Bodycam footage shows one of the West Haven officers smashing in the front passenger seat window of the car Soulemane was in. Then a trooper is seen attempting to shoot the teenager with a stun gun that later proved to be broken.
This gave way for North to fire his handgun seven times in the window on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Police say he shot after Soulemane flashed his knife at him.
The inspector general believed de-escalation “could and should have been attempted, possibly with the assistance of officers with crisis intervention training.” Versus “dramatically” escalating the situation by shattering the window.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who attended the man’s memorial, remarked something didn’t “smell right,” as he listened to what was being presented as facts.
Community outrage, led by the family and the NAACP, ensued as stakeholders agreed with the inspector general, saying officers did not have to use deadly force when attempting to apprehend Soulemane, believing de-escalation training should have been the first option for the cops.
Soulemane’s family’s attorney, Mark Arons said in a statement, “The family of Mubarak Soulemane is very happy that, after 2+ years, Trooper Brian North, who murdered Mubarak in West Haven in January 2020, may be brought to justice.”
“It’s a long road ahead. But this is a good day.”
He also said, “This was yet another horrendous act of violence against a young man of color that was totally unnecessary.”
State police confirm North, who previously was placed on paid administrative leave and had his police powers suspended, turned himself into the state inspector general at the Bethany state police barracks around 7:30 p.m.
Gov. Ned Lamont released a statement on Wednesday morning praising the policy he put in place that can lead to more police accountability.
“I signed the police accountability bill nearly two years for situations just like this one. By having an independent IG (Inspector General) who investigates cases instead of police investigating other police, the public can be more confident in the officers who serve and protect them. 99.9% of the police across our state do a great job and deserve our trust. The process we’re seeing play out now is methodical, and we’ll leave it to our courts to now serve justice.”
The Connecticut State Police Union is rallying for North, stating they will “vigorously defend Trooper North and his actions” and believe they are obligated to protect Trooper North’s constitutional right to due process of law and a fair trial.”
A statement from the union said in part, “Trooper North was risking his own life while trying to fulfill his oath of office to protect the lives of others. Regardless of the Inspector General’s decision, we will respect the judicial process.”
Andrew Matthews, Executive Director of the Connecticut State Police Union, doubled down on the organization’s position with his own statement:
“When a trooper or a police officer in CT or anywhere in the country is forced to make a split-second decision that others can analyze and reanalyze and find subject matter experts that give different opinions and that one individual person appointed by the legislature can make a decision on whether a police officer should be prosecuted criminally for that, that’s concerning to us, but that’s the process and we’ll respect it.”
North was released on a $50,000 bond and is due in court on May 3.