A Connecticut State Police trooper has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter after being charged in connection with the 2020 shooting death of a teenager in West Haven after a chase.
Trooper Brian North was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane after a police chase that ended in West Haven in January 2020.
A remote hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 2 and North is due in court on Sept. 15.
State police union leaders said North acted objectively during a violent encounter when he was forced to make a split-second decision during dangerous and rapidly evolving circumstances.
Before the arraignment earlier this month, the union sent a memo out to police across the state, asking them to go to Milford and march with North to the courthouse to show their support and dozens of police officers showed up.
On Thursday, North was once again surrounded by a large group of law enforcement officers as he walked into the courthouse.
He left the courthouse without speaking.
His attorney, Frank Riccio, spoke after court.
“All I’m going to comment on is that he is working together with his legal team and working through this,” Riccio said.
Soulemane’s family was surrounded by supporters as well.
His mother, Omo Soulemane, said she wants justice for her son.
“Mubarak Soulemane deserves justice. I want Brian North to be held accountable for killing my son,” she said.
In a report about the shooting that was released in April, Inspector General Robert J. Devlin, Jr. said, in part, “Stated briefly, the investigation establishes that, at the time Trooper North fired his weapon, neither he nor any other person was in imminent danger of 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."
North was arrested on Tuesday, April 19, becoming the first police officer in more than a decade to be charged with a fatal shooting. He was released on $50,000 bond.
North was placed on leave after the arrest.
State police said Soulemane carjacked a vehicle in Norwalk on Jan. 15, 2020, and led police on a chase on Interstate 95 to West Haven. Troopers were able to box in the car Soulemane was driving.
State police body camera video showed a West Haven officer smashing out the passenger door window before another trooper shot Soulemane with a stun gun. Trooper North then fired his gun through the driver's door window when Soulemane displayed a knife, state police said.
Soulemane’s family has said he was a community college student who had schizophrenia.
Both legal teams will review evidence over the next two months and meet again Aug. 2.
Prosecuting attorney Sanford Rubenstein said he is confident in the videos that captured what happened that night.
“We believe that after the jury or the judge is shown the video in this case, pictures of the truth, it will be clear that this was an execution, he said.
This is a high-profile case and when the defense attorney was asked about the possibility of getting an impartial jury, he said it’s hard to say if it could happen.
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