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State Trooper Brian North was arrested Tuesday night for killing 19-year-old New Haven resident Mubarak Soulemane in a high-speed highway chase in 2020.

Inspector General Robert J. Devlin, Jr. announced North’s arrest in a press release Wednesday morning. North was charged with first degree manslaughter with a firearm before being released on a $50,000 bond.

North’s police powers have been suspended and he has also been placed on paid administrative leave. His arrest has attracted national media attention

The Norwalk Police Department began pursuing Soulemane after receiving a call that he was carrying a knife in a telephone store in the midst of a Schizophrenic episode. Soulemane allegedly attempted to steal an iPhone before hijacking a vehicle from a Lyft driver. State troopers then chased Soulemane along the I-95 north highway for some time before abandoning the chase. 

Soulemane crashed into another car under a bridge in West Haven, after which three troopers surrounded him with guns drawn. Body camera footage of the incident shows one officer using a taser on Soulemane, breaking down one of the car windows. North fired seven shots into the driver’s window, killing Soulemane. He was shot in the arm, chest and hand. 

Soulemane’s death sparked protests throughout the city as activists, family members and friends called for justice. The Connecticut ACLU and NAACP released a public statement condemning the event and calling for an investigation not led by state police. They also noted the disproportionate impact that instances of police brutality such as this have on Black and Latinx communities. This was the case with Soulemane, a Black teenager, and North, a white officer. 

Both Rev. Al Sharpton and the mother of Eric Garner, Gwen Carr, spoke at a memorial service for Soulemane in New Haven in January 2020. The Connecticut Inspector General’s 133-page report contains analysis of the video footage, an autopsy report and scene analysis. 

In a press conference midday Wednesday, Executive Director of the Connecticut State Police Union Andrew Matthews addressed North’s arrest, saying he was “disappointed” with the Inspector General’s decision. North is one of 890 trooper sergeants and master sergeants who are members of the union.

Matthews said that the union does not believe North had the intent of killing Soulemane and plans to defend North’s actions. 

“Trooper North made a split-second decision during some very unusual and very difficult circumstances, and people have had time over two years to analyze those facts and circumstances,” Matthews said. “We are very comfortable advocating and vigorously defending Trooper North and his actions that day.” 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker wrote in a press release Wednesday afternoon that he had watched the video of the incident and said it is critical that law enforcement officers are held to a high standard. 

“The state trooper’s arrest, and the due process that will follow, will help ensure that there is accountability for Mubarak’s death and that justice will be served on his behalf and for his family,” Elicker said. 

Elicker joined protestors in a march outside City Hall to the police station calling for justice a week after Soulemane was killed.

North is expected to appear in Milford Superior Court on May 3.

SOPHIE SONNENFELD
Sophie Sonnenfeld covers cops and courts. She is a first-year in Branford College majoring in anthropology.