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‘Patience was essential’: Mubarak Soulemane’s family reacts to arrest of Connecticut state trooper

Mubarak Soulemane press conference
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Mariyann Soulemane, the sister of Mubarak Soulemane, the 19-year-old who was shot and killed by State Police Trooper Brian North in 2020, listens during a news conference after North was arrested and charged with manslaughter. “It’s time to set an example, that this cannot go on any longer,” she said. “And I hope to see these systemic changes take effect through the legacy of my brother.”

In the two years since her brother was killed by a Connecticut state trooper, Mariyann Soulemane says she almost lost hope that the officer would be held accountable.

“The path has shown its course and why patience was essential,” Soulemane said.

She and other family members of Mubarak Soulemane gathered Thursday to mark the arrest of Brian North, who shot and killed the 19-year-old in 2020. North was arrested after turning himself in earlier this week and has been charged with manslaughter. He was released after posting $50,000 bail, and his police powers have been suspended.

As the Soulemane family waited for an arrest, there was a global movement for Black lives in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Connecticut then passed the Police Accountability Law, which created an independent office of the inspector general to review deaths like Mubarak’s.

“We thank God for George Floyd’s legacy and hope that this is not just for my brother, this is for all of us: Every family that was wronged in the state of Connecticut, everybody that was murdered by [a] police officer and got off scot-free, this is for them,” Mariyann Soulemane said.

Mubarak Soulemane press conference
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
The Rev. Kevin McCall stands with a poster displaying a still picture of the dashboard camera footage of Trooper Brian North in the encounter where he shot and killed 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane. Next to him, Soulemane’s stepfather, Abdoulah Banned, holds a photo of Soulemane. North was arrested and charged with manslaughter this week after an investigation that lasted over two years found that the shooting wasn't justified.

The family got the news of North’s manslaughter charge directly from state Inspector General Robert Devlin, according to Mark Arons, a family lawyer. Family members were “joyous and elated” after waiting for more than two years, he said.

Mubarak’s mother, Omo Klusum Mohammed, expressed gratitude Thursday for Devlin’s efforts.

“I want to thank the inspector general for taking his time to investigate this case,” Mohammed said.

North fatally shot Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020 after a high-speed chase. Soulemane sat in the driver’s seat of a stolen car in West Haven, where the chase ended and police boxed in the car. 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. He said he feared Soulemane was going to attack his fellow officers.

Mubarak Soulemane press conference
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Omo Klusum Mohammed, the mother of Mubarak Soulemane, the 19-year-old who was shot and killed by State Police Trooper Brian North in 2020, speaks to reporters after North was arrested and charged with manslaughter. “I’m hoping and being grateful that Brian North will be held accountable for killing my son and go to jail,” she said.

But the report from the inspector general’s office states that neither North nor any other person was in imminent danger of serious injury or death from a knife attack. The report found that North was not justified in using deadly force – and the investigation questioned the necessity of the high-speed chase.

Soulemane had reportedly been treated for schizophrenia in the past, and the report says he was acting erratically on the day of his death.

North is scheduled to be arraigned May 3. North’s attorney didn’t issue a comment on Thursday. The state police union said it was disappointed that the inspector general’s office decided to prosecute North and that it will vigorously defend the trooper.

Connecticut Public’s Jeff Cohen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She loves hearing what you thought of her stories or story ideas you have so please email her at aoshinskie@ctpublic.org.

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