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'We're distraught': Family of CT man shot and killed by state trooper reacts after his acquittal

Mariyann Soulemane speaks during a press conference where she and other members of her family spoke to reporters after a West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of her brother, Mubarak Soulemane. “This four years has been exhausting,” she said, “And the real justice would be my brother being here today, and not being killed so ruthlessly the way he was by Brian North with seven gunshots.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Mariyann Soulemane speaks during a press conference where she and other members of her family spoke to reporters after a West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of her brother, Mubarak Soulemane. “This four years has been exhausting,” she said, “And the real justice would be my brother being here today, and not being killed so ruthlessly the way he was by Brian North with seven gunshots.”

The family of 19-year-old Mubarak Soulemane, a New Haven man killed by a Connecticut state trooper recently acquitted of manslaughter, is speaking out for the first time since the verdict was announced.

Soulemane’s sister, Mariyann Soulemane, said she and the rest of the family are not happy with the result.

“We're overwhelmed, we’re distraught. And we are not satisfied with the verdict,” Soulemane said.

The family is open to reaching a settlement rather than enduring a civil trial, according to their attorney, Mark Arons.

“I think we all would hope for a settlement rather than have to relitigate it again, and hopefully avoid another trial (and) essentially have to put the same witnesses on the stand,” Arons said.

The family spoke Thursday at Arons’ office, nearly a week after a jury acquitted trooper Brian North on all counts. North’s case is considered one of the most high-profile police trials since the passage of Connecticut’s Police Accountability Act in 2020.

North was acquitted even after the state found his use of lethal force was not justified. Arons said the verdict shows new policies and laws designed to defend against unnecessary use of force are still at the mercy of juries who tend to favor police.

A civil trial has a better shot at getting the Soulemane family some measure of justice because it has a lower burden of proof, according to Arons.

Attorney Mark Arons speaks to the press with members of the Soulemane family behind him after a West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of Mubarak Soulemane.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Attorney Mark Arons speaks to the press with members of the Soulemane family behind him after a West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of Mubarak Soulemane.

“The burden of proof is a lot different. It's preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt,” Arons said. “And in the civil cases against police for violation of civil rights, we do not have to prove necessarily, recklessness.”

Arons said the family is willing to continue their civil case against North and the other officers involved. But getting a settlement would avoid a repeat of being forced to endure traumatic testimony and witnessing evidence related to Soulemane’s death.

Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed in 2020 by North after he led police on a car chase from Norwalk to West Haven before being shot and killed by North while Soulemane’s vehicle was pinned by other police cars. He was shot seven times.

Soulemane’s sister said having to relive those memories in the courtroom was difficult.

“It's raw, it's fresh, you're angered because the room is filled with opposing sides, your family, you're looking at the culprit. It's … emotionally taxing,” Soulemane said.

The jury acquitted North even after the state’s inspector general released a report criticizing North’s actions. Arons said there is nothing wrong with the law. It's the first time in almost two decades a municipal or state law enforcement official was tried for shooting someone, according to him.

But, it's ultimately up to juries, and in many cases, they’re still deferential to police, according to Dori Dumas, the president of the Greater New Haven NAACP chapter.

“It is the culture. I think it is a mindset of people, some people in their mind, if you're wearing a uniform, then that just automatically makes you right,” Dumas said.

Omo Klusum Mohammed speaks during a press conference after West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of her son, Mubarak Soulemane. “I’m not happy with the verdict, but I respect it, because that’s the law of the country, but it’s not easy,” she said.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Omo Klusum Mohammed speaks during a press conference after West Haven Police officer was found not guilty of manslaughter in the shooting of her son, Mubarak Soulemane. “I’m not happy with the verdict, but I respect it, because that’s the law of the country, but it’s not easy,” she said.

For the family, everything changed after Mubarak Soulemane was shot and killed during a mental health crisis, according to his mother, Omo Mohammed.

“It's been four years; it's been hard, very stressful,” Mohammed said.

But Mariyann Soulemane said she hopes the trial signifies a change in law enforcement accountability.

“I hope this in some way sets a precedent moving forward for other unjust cases of police brutality and Connecticut,” she said.

Yet nothing could ever bring her brother back, who was ambitious, kind and had so much to offer according to her, despite his mental health struggles.

“The real justice would be my brother being here today,” she said.