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Connecticut trooper charged in fatal shooting of Mubarak Soulemane appears at arraignment

Brian North arraignment
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
State Trooper Brian North arrives for his arraignment at Milford Superior Court in Milford, Connecticut, on May 3, 2022. North fatally shot 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020 after a high-speed chase and has been charged with manslaughter.

A Connecticut state trooper who fired seven gunshots into a car and killed a man in 2020 after a high-speed chase appeared before a judge Tuesday for an arraignment.

Trooper Brian North’s case has been continued to June 2.

Troopers gathered in Milford Tuesday morning to show support for North, who has been charged with manslaughter.

FullSizeRender-preview-2xx.jpg
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Police union leaders and officers head to the Milford courthouse in support of Connecticut State Trooper Brian North ahead of his arraignment on May 3, 2022.

North was arrested last month and was released after posting $50,000 bail. His police powers have been suspended.

North fatally shot 19-year-old 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.

Inside the Milford courtroom Tuesday, North sat quietly and still as he waited for the hearing to begin. More than three dozen supporters in plainclothes filled the benches behind him. They dwarfed the number of family members and supporters for the victim in the case. But the hearing was quickly concluded, pushing the next court date into early June.

After it was over, Soulemane's mother appeared outside the courthouse with family, lawyers and supporters. She said the strong state police union presence at the hearing was an attempt at intimidation.

“Yes, I feel in my heart that they are here to try to intimidate us,” Omo Klusum Mohammed said. “But there is no officer or any trooper who will intimidate us. We are here to stand for justice and I’m here to stand for justice for my son, Mubarak Soulemane. And I hope and pray justice will be served and Brian North will go to jail.”

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, civil rights counsel for the family, also addressed the police presence.

“It doesn’t matter how many state troopers this trooper union brings out to this courtroom,” he said. “Ultimately, this case will be decided on the evidence. And I believe, once pictures of the truth, video of what happened, is shown to a jury, they will come to the same conclusion that I have -- that this was an execution.”

A 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.

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.

Soulemane’s sister, Mariyann Soulemane, said at a news conference in April that she almost lost hope that the officer would be held accountable.

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

Brian North arraignment
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Omo Klusum Mohammed (right), mother of Mubarak Soulemane, arrives with her family and lawyer for State Trooper Brian North's arraignment in Milford Superior Court on May 3, 2022.

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 at the news conference.

Connecticut Public's Ali Oshinskie and Jeff Cohen contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.

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