Trooper Prepares To Stand Trial In Shooting Case

The trial of a Connecticut state trooper charged in connection to the shooting of a 19-year-old man during a high-speed chase is expected to begin the week of March 4, the Associated Press reported.

Trooper Brian North was charged with manslaughter in April 2022 for shooting 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane seven times following a high-speed chase in West Haven on January 15, 2020.

Soulemane stole a ride-share vehicle and subsequently led police on a chase down Interstate 95. After police boxed Soulemane in and were trying to draw him out of the vehicle, North fired shots through the windshield, killing the suspect.

Based on body cam footage from the incident, officers attempted to get Soulemane to exit the vehicle but he refused. A West Haven police officer then smashed out the passenger-side window. Another state trooper shot Souleman with a stun gun. Despite their efforts, Souleman refused to exit the vehicle.

North told investigators at the time that Soulemane was armed with a knife and appeared ready to attack the other officers on the passenger side which was why he fired on the suspect.

However, Robert Devlin, the inspector general charged with investigating deadly force incidents by Connecticut police, determined in 2022 that deadly force was not justified.

Devlin said in his report that when Trooper North fired, nobody was in “imminent danger of serious injury or death” and it was unreasonable to believe otherwise.

Despite noting in his report that experts consulted by the prosecutor who initially investigated the shooting both concluded that the shooting was justified, Devlin decided to charge North with manslaughter.

After he was charged, North was placed on administrative leave. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Jury selection in the trial was on February 21. The 6-person jury will begin hearing evidence in the case on March 4.

The state police union objected to the charges against North, arguing that the trooper acted to protect other officers.