A 19-year-old New Haven, Connecticut man is dead after a State Trooper fired seven shots into his car, newly released camera footage shows. Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed by State Trooper Brian North after what started as an investigation of a reported carjacking, according to a report from NBC Connecticut.
Norwalk police officers received a report of an armed carjacking where Soulemane was accused of stealing a rideshare vehicle after allegedly getting into a verbal dispute at an AT&T location in New Haven, Fox 61 reports. The police department initially began a pursuit on Soulemane, but city police supervisors called it off, according to the New Haven Register. State Troopers later pursued the man after a report of a white Hyundai driving recklessly on I-95 North.
Police noted that a pursuit of a stolen vehicle is permissible if the person in the vehicle “has committed, is attempting to commit or will imminently commit a crime of violence (actual or threatened), or there are articulable exigent circumstances that warrant the need to apprehend the suspect in a timely manner because of the potential for harm to the public if apprehension does not occur.”
After the pursuit transpired, Soulemane reportedly hit two State Police cruisers before exiting off the highway where he crashed into a civilian’s vehicle and was then boxed in by State Troopers. With guns drawn, an officer demanded that Soulemane exit the car. According to the New Haven Register, one of the officers reached for the car’s door handle only to find that it was locked, which can also be seen in the dashcam footage. Another officer shattered the car window with a baton. Reports also claim that one of the officers attempted to use a stun gun to get Soulemane out of the car.
He is then seen moving in the car and appears to have something in his hands, which police said was a knife as it was discovered after the shooting and also stated prior to the pursuit. Trooper North fired seven shots into the vehicle, before announcing that Soulemane had a knife.
The officer then informed his colleagues, who were also on the scene, that Soulemane’s knife was not in his hand, but on his lap. Thereafter, the officer reached into the car and retrieved the knife.
Soulemane’s family, who is being represented by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, said that the 19-year-old battled with schizophrenia. “#MubarakSoulemane had a manic episode his family reported to police a day prior. He had a knife & fled police. Conn state troopers boxed him in and surrounded his disabled vehicle. He was trapped. Then a cop walked right up to his sealed door and shot him 7 times. Murder,” Merritt tweeted on Thursday.
Acting Chief State’s Attorney John J. Russotto said that inspectors from the Division of Criminal Justice are aware of the incident and the “deadly force” used by Trooper North and will be investigating the killing. “In fact, the state’s attorneys in recent months had already initiated discussions on the best practices for conducting such an investigation,” Russo said.
Rev. Boise Kimber of Calvary Baptist in New Haven supported the family at a press conference last Friday, Jan. 17, and questioned why the officer failed to de-escalate the situation and opted to excessively firing his gun instead. “The officer never said that he saw a knife until he shot the individual. What that means to me is that he was trying to justify the shooting. It’s a terrible incident,” Kimber said.
Kimber added that the family wants to know what happened after the video footage cuts off.
Trooper North, who has been on the police force for four-and-a-half years and was the only officer to fire his weapon, has been placed on administrative leave, according to NBC Connecticut.
Soulemane’s death is the third by the hands of police in Connecticut in three weeks.
Rev. Al Sharpton is said to attend the 19-year-old’s memorial on Sunday, according to The Hour.