Family, clergy demand reforms after fatal shooting by police
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Clergy and relatives of a 19-year-old man killed by a Connecticut state police trooper met with the state’s public safety commissioner on Tuesday, demanding the trooper be sent home on suspension and asking for more de-escalation training.
Trooper Brian North fatally shot Mubarak Soulemane on Jan. 15 as Soulemane was sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and displaying a knife, after troopers tried to use a stun gun but it didn’t work, state police said.
The shooting in West Haven followed a high-speed chase along Interstate 95 after Soulemane had carjacked the vehicle in Norwalk and collided with two police cruisers and a civilian’s vehicle, officials said. North was placed on administrative duty under normal protocols pending an investigation led by Middlesex State’s Attorney Michael Gailor.
The Rev. Boise Kimber, of the First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven, said he, other clergy and relatives of Soulemane met Tuesday morning with Commissioner James Rovella of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
Kimber said Rovella promised more training for troopers on de-escalating situations and implicit bias. He also said Rovella vowed more efforts to increase diversity within state police. Kimber and other New-Haven pastors have called for federal prosecutors to investigate the fatal shooting because they were not confident the state could impartially investigate itself.
Messages seeking comment were left with state police officials and North on Tuesday.
Relatives of Soulemane, of New Haven, said they were going to rally later in the day outside New Haven City Hall.
“What we want is justice,” said Soulemane’s mother, Omo Mohammad.
State police officials took no immediate action on the request to send North home on suspension, Kimber said.
Kimber and Soulemane’s family believe there was no reason for the trooper to open fire because police had Soulemane surrounded.
“I just think this kid was murdered and something has to be done about it,” Kimber said. “They said he had a knife, but he wasn’t in nobody’s way. How can he harm someone when he’s boxed in on both sides?”
Souleman’s relatives also were upset because they believe police videos show another trooper at the scene saying a racial slur about Soulemane, who was black. State police denied the claim.