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Jury finds Connecticut state trooper not guilty in fatal 2020 shooting of 19-year-old

By Nic F. Anderson and Zenebou Sylla, CNN

(CNN) — A jury found Connecticut State Trooper Brian North not guilty of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and two other charges in connection with the fatal 2020 shooting of a 19-year-old accused of carjacking.

The trooper was charged with first-degree manslaughter with a firearm, second-degree manslaughter with a firearm and criminally negligent homicide after the inspector general completed an investigation and found North’s shooting of Mubarak Soulemane “not justified.”

North hugged his attorney, Frank Riccio, after the verdict was read. CNN has reached out to Riccio for comment.

North has been on paid administrative duty with his police powers suspended following the incident, a spokesman for the state police previously told CNN. He remains on administrative duty pending the outcome of a state police internal affairs investigation, a spokesperson told CNN on Friday.

The shooting

North fatally shot Soulemane on January 15, 2020, after Soulemane allegedly carjacked a white Hyundai and then led police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 95 for roughly 35 miles, according to an investigative report released in 2022 by Connecticut State Inspector General Robert Devlin Jr.

Soulemane struck two cruisers and a civilian vehicle before he was boxed in by troopers.

North directed the other trooper on scene to use his taser before firing seven times into the car, according to the report.

Before the shooting, the other trooper on the scene bent down near the driver’s side window when “Soulemane then moved his arm upward holding a knife pointed toward the ceiling of the car,” according to the report.

“The suspect was moving and holding the knife in an aggressive manner, and appeared to me to be preparing to attack either (the other trooper) or the West Haven officer,” the report notes of North’s statement to investigators.

A West Haven police officer yelled “he’s reaching!” and North fired into the car seven times and yelled to “drop the knife!” the report states. Trooper North retrieved a knife from the car, the reports states.

“Based on these circumstances, I believed that (the trooper) and the West Haven officer were at imminent risk of serious physical injury or death, and could have been stabbed in the neck or face as they attempted to enter the vehicle and remove the suspect. As a result, I discharged my duty firearm to eliminate the threat,” North wrote in his report.

Other police officers pulled Soulemane out of the car and provided medical aid but he was not responsive, according to the report. Soulemane was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“Stated briefly, the investigation establishes that, at the time Trooper North fired his weapon, neither he nor any other person was in imminent danger of serious injury or death from a knife attack at the hands of Soulemane,” Devlin wrote in the report.

“Further, any belief that persons were in such danger was not reasonable,” the report continued, adding the investigator found “North’s use of deadly force was not justified under Connecticut law.”

Soulemane’s mother told investigators he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at 14 years old and possibly wasn’t taking his medication on the day of his fatal shooting, according to the inspector general’s report. His mother also said if he did not take his medicine, he “would become combative and scream,” but “would not become physical.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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