WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Local civil rights leaders and members of the Soulemane family met with West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi last Tuesday to demand body cameras for the West Haven police department. They say she has committed to pushing for the cameras. Monday, they made additional demands for body cameras in front of West Haven City Council.
Mubarak Soulemane, 19, was shot and killed by Trooper Brian North after Soulemane allegedly stole a car at knife-point and led police on a chase into West Haven on Jan. 15. Officials said he was shot through the window of the car after he reportedly pulled a knife.
The Soulemane family says if the West Haven officers who responded to the scene had worn cameras, it could have helped in the state’s ongoing deadly-force investigation.
Soulemane’s great uncle says the family is hoping to transform their loss into community change.
Suhnoom Adams says his family is fighting for “the future kids that are going to be the kids of this state and this city,” by speaking with public officials and demanding updated policies towards racial minorities.
“We talked about urban trauma training. We talked about de-escalation, we talked about culture; diversity, we talked about the number of black and brown officers on the force in West Haven.”– Civil Rights leader Reverend Dr. Boise Kimber
Adams said they believe the Mayor will follow through: “Looks like she will be paying attention. And we’re going to really make sure that she does.”
Leaders of the African-American community say department-issued body cameras will help improve the relationship between officers and citizens.
“The Mayor is stating that she doesn’t have the money and we’re stating, ‘figure it out.’ A person was murdered in your city and there is no body-cam from your police officers here to really tell the story about what took place,” said Rev. Kimber.
He was joined by West Haven leaders Tuesday in a meeting with the mayor.
“We are going to stand with Reverend Kimber and the other ministers here today. We will stand with them to make sure everything he requested is done.”– Carroll Brown, president of the West Haven Black Coalition
Last Tuesday evening, Mayor Rossi told News 8 that she had agreed to try to facilitate body cameras but will need to find the money to follow through. She says she has already contacted the City’s grant writer to find financing through state or federal funds.
At a West Haven Police Commission meeting Tuesday night, black civil rights leaders demanded West Haven officers be equipped with body cameras just as the State Troopers are, saying without the CSP troopers on scene, the public would have never known what happened the evening of Jan. 15.
“I think it behooves this department here to move into the 21st century. That you will be able to keep an eye upon your own officers in what they do, what they say, how they deal with the public.
If something happens to a civilian in this city, we would never know the truth about what transpired because it is a civilian word against an officer’s word. Most likely the officer would be the one who will be heard.”– Reverend Doctor Boise Kimber
Monday, family members, clergy, and community members in support of the Soulemane family went before the West Haven City Council to again demand the pricey addition to the police department.
The family members say if West Haven PD had cameras on them as the State Police did, they would get a fuller picture of what happened.
“West Haven has to make a statement in reference to what happened on the streets of this city.”– Reverend Doctor Boise Kimber
“West Haven from what I understand showed up as mutual aid to state police. How is this West Haven’s fault that this happened? That the trooper decided to be judge, juror and executioner?– Steven Mullins/ West Haven Planning and Zoning Commissioner
Since the shooting, Trooper North will remain on desk duty, he won’t be assigned to a barrack and won’t be able to drive his cruiser until the investigation is complete.
Last week, the Middlesex State’s Attorneys Office released the preliminary report regarding the autopsy results. Results showed Soulemane’s death was a homicide.
Now the State’s Attorneys Office is working to determine if the use-of-force used was necessary. Family and supporters argue that the knife posed no threat to law enforcement from inside a car.