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Man killed by CT state trooper struggled with mental health, family says at trial

Omo Muhammed, mother of Mubarak Soulemane, is sworn in as the first witness to testify at State Trooper Brian North’s trial in State Superior Court in Milford, Connecticut March 4, 2024. North is charged with manslaughter for shooting 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020 in West Haven after a chase from Norwalk on Interstate 95.
Ned Gerard
/
Pool-Hearst Connecticut Media
Omo Muhammed, mother of Mubarak Soulemane, is sworn in as the first witness to testify at State Trooper Brian North’s trial in State Superior Court in Milford, Connecticut March 4, 2024. North is charged with manslaughter for shooting 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020 in West Haven after a chase from Norwalk on Interstate 95.

Mubarak Soulemane was experiencing mental health issues in the days before he was shot and killed by a Connecticut state trooper, his family members say.

Family members testified Monday, the first day of a trial for Trooper Brian North, who faces a manslaughter charge for shooting and killing Soulemane on Jan. 15, 2020.

North did not testify Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.

Omo Mohammed said her son was first diagnosed in high school after he suffered a mental health episode, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But she said he was able to overcome his struggles.

“Even with that sickness, he was able to graduate,” Mohammed said.

State Trooper Brian North arrives with his defense attorneys to Connecticut Superior Court on the first day of his manslaughter trial in the death of 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020. Milford, Connecticut March 4, 2024.
Eddy Martinez
/
Connecticut Public
State Trooper Brian North arrives with his defense attorneys to Connecticut Superior Court on the first day of his manslaughter trial in the death of 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane in January 2020. Milford, Connecticut March 4, 2024.

North killed Soulemane after he caused a disturbance at a phone store in Norwalk, stole a car, then led police on a high-speed pursuit into West Haven. Soulemane was inside a vehicle and holding a knife when North fired his gun. An internal report stated North was not in immediate danger and his use of lethal force was not necessary.

Mariyann Soulemane said she heard her brother was killed after her other brother Saeed called her when she was out of the country on a Fulbright scholarship.

“He was just very distraught and bawling,” she said during testimony Monday. “And he finally said, ‘Mubarak died.”

Several witnesses said that Soulemane’s behavior that day made them worry for their safety.

“My coworker told me that he had a knife on the side of his pocket,” said Giovanna Padilla, who worked at a Norwalk phone store that Soulemane had visited.

But he also struggled with consistently taking his medication, which Mariyann Soulemane said is routine with people with similar illnesses. She said she began to notice when he would have an episode.

She remembers her brother often calling her when he was suffering from a crisis, as she tried to speak to him thoughtfully without worsening the situation.

But she said Soulemane was beginning to undergo an episode the week before he was killed. She remembered talking to him over the phone.

“I was nervous and just wanted to gauge if he was taking his medication,” she said. “But it wasn't to the point where I felt he needed immediate attention.”