MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The state trooper charged in the 2020 shooting death of a 19-year-old New Haven man faced a judge Thursday in Milford Superior Court.

Brian North pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the death of Mubarak Soulemane. North walked into court surrounded by fellow law enforcement officers, making it clear they stand behind North as the case moves forward.

“I want Brian North to be held accountable for killing my son,” said Soulemane’s mother, Omo Klusum Mohammed, at a press conference outside court. “I want Brian North to go to jail for killing my son.”

Police say Soulemane carjacked a Lyft driver at knifepoint, then led police on a chase from Norwalk to West Haven. Police boxed him in, trapping him inside the car. With body cameras rolling, North shot and killed Soulemane.

“And we believe that after the jury or the judge is shown the video, in this case, pictures of the truth, it will be clear that this was an execution,” said Sanford Rubenstein, a Soulemane family attorney.

Mubarak Soulemane
Mubarak Soulemane (Courtesy of the Soulemane family)

North told investigators Soulemane refused to drop the knife and made a sudden movement, causing him to fire to protect himself and others. The trooper’s attorney, Frank Riccio, entered a not guilty plea to the charge of felony manslaughter.

“Today [Thursday] was more of a procedural appearance than anything else,” Frank Riccio, North’s attorney, said outside the courthouse. “Today was the first court appearance in the part A court in Milford.”

North is the first police officer charged since the state created the Office of the Inspector General last year specifically to investigate police shootings like this. Fellow officers say North did what any law enforcement officer would do. Ricco did not say much about how North is holding up.

“All I’m going to comment on is that he is working together with his legal team and working through this,” Riccio said.

The19-year-old’s family has previously said yes, Soulemane may have carjacked a Lyft driver at knifepoint in Norwalk. And yes, he led police on a 30-mile chase up I-95 until they boxed him in West Haven.

The family said that Soulemane had mental health issues. They also stated that after police boxed him in, trapped him, and left him in the car with only a knife, he was not a real danger to anyone on the scene.

North’s next court appearance will be virtual on Aug. 2 due to the amount of evidence the legal teams need to review.