‘I pray for justice,’ says slain teen’s mom as family pursues lawsuit against state trooper
BRIDGEPORT — The mother of a New Haven teenager shot to death by a state trooper last month following a pursuit broke into tears Thursday as she faced a large gathering of news media.
“I pray no other mother has to see this again and I pray for justice for Mubarak,” Omo Klusum Mohammed said.
Mubarak Soulemane, 19, was killed Jan. 13 in West Haven after he allegedly carjacked a driver in Norwalk following an alleged incident with a knife at an AT&T store there, then fled from police at high at speeds that reached 90 mph along Interstate 95 before getting off in West Haven.
The family is planning a rally at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the I-95 Exit 43 ramp.
According to Connecticut State Police, Trooper Brian North fired his weapon when he saw Soulemane with a knife after stopping the car off Exit 43 in West Haven. “When the driver displayed a weapon (later determined to be a knife), a trooper on scene discharged his assigned duty pistol, striking the driver,” state police said.
Video of the incident released by state police shows North firing seven times into the car as Soulemane sat in the driver’s seat, prompting numerous people on social media to question the shooting.
It will be up to Middlesex State’s Attorney Michael Gailor to determine whether North violated any law. North is on desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation. In the meantime, the Soulemane family said Thursday they filed a claim, the first step toward a $10 million lawsuit against the state, the state police, the city of West Haven and the West Haven Police Department.
State police have declined comment on a possible lawsuit.
“The West Haven police were active participants in stopping Mubrak’s vehicle,” Mark Arons said during a press conference Thursday in the Bridgeport law office of Miller, Rosnick, D’Amico, August and Butler. Arons, along with New York City civil rights’ lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, is representing the Soulemane family.
Arons said they may later decide to include the Norwalk Police Department in the lawsuit.
“(Soulemane) wasn’t a threat to anyone. They didn’t have to rush to execute this young man,” Arons said.
“The family wants state Trooper Brian North held criminally accountable in this wrongful death,” Rubenstein said. “The family has fully cooperated and will continue to fully cooperate in the state’s attorney’s investigation.”
A half-dozen family, friends and supporters held signs during the press conference demanding justice for Soulemane, who grew up in Norwalk.
“We demand this officer be indicted, convicted and sent to jail,” said Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, as others in the group chanted “justice.”
“This was basically a murder on tape. This officer should be in handcuffs immediately,” added the Rev. Kevin McCall of New York City.