Family of man killed by trooper seeking more than $10M

Kusum Tewari

Relatives of a Connecticut man killed by a state trooper are seeking more than $10 million in wrongful death damages from state and local police

Relatives of a black Connecticut man killed by a state trooper are seeking more than $10 million in wrongful death damages from state and local police, according to legal notices filed Thursday.

Lawyers for the family of Mubarak Soulemane, 19, asked the state claims commissioner for permission to sue the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and top state police officials including Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella for $10 million.

They also filed notice with the town of West Haven that they intend to sue the town and local police officials for an undisclosed amount of money.

The attorneys and family on Thursday also called on the state to convene a grand jury for a criminal investigation into the fatal shooting.

“I want justice. I want justice,” Soulemane’s mother, Omo Mohammed, said in an interview Thursday. “I want this policeman to go to jail for killing my son.”

West Haven’s counsel, Lee Tiernan, said the town’s policy is not to comment on pending litigation. The claim will be referred to the town’s insurance adjuster, he said.

A message seeking comment was left with state police.

State police said Soulemane carjacked a vehicle in Norwalk on Jan. 15 before leading troopers on a chase on Interstate 95 into West Haven. Officials said Soulemane struck two state police cruisers and a civilian’s vehicle before troopers stopped his vehicle by boxing it in. West Haven police also responded to the scene.

State police body camera videos show a West Haven officer smashing out the passenger door window of the stolen car before a trooper shoots Soulemane with a stun gun, which didn’t work. Another trooper, Brian North, who is white, then fired his handgun seven times through the driver’s door window when Soulemane displayed a knife, state police said.

Soulemane’s family has said he was a community college student who had schizophrenia.

Relatives, clerics and civil rights advocates have called the shooting criminal and unnecessary. It was the third fatal shooting by police in Connecticut since the new year began.

“Clearly … the video shows the police officer was in no imminent danger … when he fired seven shots rapidly into the car,” said civil rights attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing Soulemane’s family. “More important than money damages is that this police officer be held accountable for his actions.”

North has been assigned to desk duty while investigations into the shooting are pending.

Another protest over Soulemane’s killing was being planned for Friday. Hawk Newsome, chairman of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, called Soulemane’s death an “execution.”

“Another black man is dead because of poor decision-making by a member of the law enforcement community,” Newsome said. “We’re demanding that the prosecutors and elected officials indict this officer for murder. We want him jailed immediately.”

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