police shootings

Soulemane Family Continues the Wait for Answers in 2020 Police Shooting

It’s been 22 months since Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North in West Haven on January 15, 2020.

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It’s been 22 months since Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North in West Haven on January 15, 2020.

It’s been almost two years since Mubarak Soulemane was killed in West Haven. His death followed a police pursuit from Norwalk after an alleged carjacking.

But how he was killed, and what happened moments before the shooting are still under investigation.  

“We were just like ‘dude please be careful, we don’t want you to fall in the water.’”

When she thinks of her brother, Mariyann Soulemane remembers a trip to Dubai and Ghana.

“During that trip we had like dancing moments, where we had African music and we were just like all dancing together,” said Soulemane.

It’s been 22 months since Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed by Connecticut State Trooper Brian North in West Haven on January 15, 2020.

“My brother was unjustly murdered. Seven gunshots to the human body,” Soulemane said.

North remains on administrative suspension. The Connecticut State Police Union attorney declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation by the State Division of Criminal Justice. 

Mubarak's case is among nine police use of force investigations with the state. His is the oldest, from January 2020.

“We’re praying our brother is resting in peace but we’re also like, you know, annoyed and agitated that the case is being stretched out for so long,” Soulemane said.

NBC Connecticut Investigates asked Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo about the open investigations. There are five from 2020 and four from this year.

“They’re in different stages. Some are waiting for experts, some are waiting for reports, some are waiting for analysis to be done,” Colangelo said.

He’s unable to discuss specific cases, but explained that most often, his department has to wait until the Connecticut State Police completes their investigation and turns it over to the individual state’s attorney assigned the case. The State Division of Criminal Justice is investigating Soulemane’s case as it involves a Connecticut State Trooper.

“And once that report and binder gets to the State’s Attorney, we’ve committed to complete our report within 120 days of receiving all of that information,” Colangelo said.

It’s unclear if his office has received Soulemane's case. But he says generally, the 120-day timeline could be slowed during their review if more experts or analysis is needed.

“It’s not the best process for victims, victims’ families, and even the officers involved,” Colangelo said. “Because everyone is waiting for us to come to a conclusion or a decision, but we definitely don’t want to rush these. These are too important.”

On July 31, 2020, six months after the shooting, Gov. Ned Lamont signed policing reform legislation into law. It included a new Independent Office of the Inspector General to investigate use of force incidents.

As of October 1, an independent team of 11 will handle all new use of force cases, streamlining the current process. The existing cases will remain with local state’s attorneys.

“It’s traumatic to be constantly reliving this. It’s been a year,” Mariyann Soulemane said.

But no matter who handles the cases, the Soulemane family says the wait for an answer is agonizing.

“They claim that it’s because they’re trying to be as thorough as possible but it’s just like, what more do you need?” Soulemane said.

When asked about families like Soulemane's, Colangelo shared this message.

“The thing that I would ask for is that they have patience and know that we’re doing everything we can as a complete investigation and a complete assessment.”

The family says it’s hard to find optimism, but Mariyann says what they do find is comfort in the time they had together.

“It’s beautiful to still hold that and be able to have those memories.”