Connecticut trooper charged with manslaughter in 2020 deadly shooting
A Connecticut state trooper who fired seven gunshots into a car and killed a man in 2020 after a high-speed chase was arrested Tuesday night in connection with the shooting, state police said.
Trooper Brian North has been charged with manslaughter.
North turned himself in to the state inspector general at the state police barracks in Bethany at about 7:30 p.m., state police said in a statement. Officials said North posted $50,000 bail, was placed on paid administrative leave and his police powers were suspended.
His attorney declined to comment.
North fatally shot Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020 as Soulemane sat in the driver's seat of a car in West Haven, where the chase ended and police boxed in the car.
The inspector general's office released a report Wednesday saying the shooting was not justified. North told officials he feared Soulemane was going to attack other officers with a knife, but the report states that neither North nor any other person was in imminent danger of serious injury or death from a knife attack.
Soulemane had reportedly been treated for schizophrenia in the past, and the report says he was acting erratically on the day of his death. After stealing a car from a hired driver, he led police on a chase.
After a failed attempt to use a taser on Soulemane, police said they saw him reaching for a knife. That’s when North fired his gun multiple times.
The investigation questioned both the necessity of the high-speed chase and the deadly use of force.
Soulemane’s family, the NAACP and other groups said North, who is white, should not have shot Soulemane, who was Black, because police surrounded him and he could not get away. Soulemane had a knife, but police should have attempted to de-escalate the situation, they say.
Mark Arons, a lawyer who represents the Soulemane family, says family members got the news of the manslaughter charge directly from state inspector general Robert Devlin.
“Needless to say, they were joyous and elated after two-plus years of waiting on a decision," Arons told Connecticut Public.
“There’s been a ground shift since the murder of George Floyd and things are different now. If this shooting of Mubarak had occurred five or 10 years ago, it’s very doubtful that an officer would be charged. So this is a big deal. I think it will certainly have repercussions in the state of Connecticut going forward, it puts law enforcement in the state of Connecticut on notice, for sure.”
The Connecticut State Police Union said it was disappointed that the inspector general's office, which investigates police use of deadly force, decided to prosecute North. The union said it will vigorously defend North.
State police said Soulemane carjacked a vehicle in Norwalk on Jan. 15, 2020, before leading troopers on a chase on Interstate 95 into West Haven. Officials said Soulemane struck two state police cruisers and a civilian’s vehicle before troopers stopped his vehicle by boxing it in. West Haven police also responded to the scene.
Soulemane's family has said he was a community college student who had schizophrenia.
The NAACP and other groups have protested the shooting. At a memorial service for Soulemane days after his death, the Rev. Al Sharpton said something about the killing didn’t “smell right” and he vowed to fight for answers for the family.
Connecticut Public's Jeff Cohen contributed to this report.