Posted on March 15, 2024

Connecticut Trooper Who Shot Black Man After Police Chase Is Acquitted of Manslaughter

Dave Collins, Associated Press, March 15, 2024

A white Connecticut state police trooper was acquitted of all charges Friday in the death of Mubarak Soulemane, a Black community college student with mental illness who was shot as he sat behind the wheel of a stolen car holding a kitchen knife.

Trooper Brian North, 33, could have faced up to 40 years in prison if he had been convicted of first-degree manslaughter in the Jan. 15, 2020, shooting {snip}


North fired his handgun seven times at close range into the car’s door after Soulemane, 19, led police on a high-speed chase through several towns on Interstate 95. The shooting happened less than a minute after the chase ended in West Haven as police surrounded the car after it crashed into another vehicle.

North testified that he fired when Soulemane pulled out a 9-inch knife and made a threatening movement. North said he believed Soulemane posed a danger to police officers who were on the other side of the car and had just broken the passenger door window.


The local NAACP and clergy decried the shooting as another unnecessary killing of a Black man by police, but race was not raised as an issue at the trial. {snip}


Police said the series of events on the day of Soulemane’s death began when he displayed a knife at an AT&T store in Norwalk and unsuccessfully tried to steal a cellphone. Police said he then slapped a Lyft driver and drove off in the driver’s car after the driver got out, leading police on a 30-mile (48-kilometer) chase from Norwalk to West Haven at speeds reaching up to 100 mph (161 kph) during the afternoon rush hour.

Norwalk officers had ended their pursuit before it reached I-95 because of the high speed and heavy traffic, and the fact that no violent crime had occurred. State police continued the pursuit, after receiving false information that the car theft was a carjacking, according to trial testimony. State troopers said Soulemane struck their cruisers during the chase.

The pursuit ended when Soulemane exited the highway, struck a civilian’s car and was boxed in by troopers and local police in West Haven. Police said the officers ordered him out of the car, but he didn’t obey them.

State police body camera videos show that a West Haven officer smashed out the passenger door window of the stolen vehicle before another trooper, Joshua Jackson, shot Soulemane with a Taser through the window, though it had no effect on Soulemane, who was wearing a heavy coat.

North told jurors that he fired his gun because he thought the West Haven officer — whom he couldn’t see — had leaned in through the smashed window and was in danger from Soulemane, who made a motion to the passenger side of the car while holding the knife.

“I was afraid that he was going to be stabbed in the face or the neck, which obviously can be a fatal injury,” North testified. “I felt that I had to act in that moment or the West Haven officer, even potentially Trooper Jackson, could have been killed.”