HARTFORD – State Police Detectives will not be the ones investigating how and why a State Police Trooper shot and killed a 19-year old in West Haven this week.
In a statement released Saturday, Acting Chief State’s Attorney John J. Russotto announced that Inspectors from the Division of Criminal Justice will assume control of the investigation into the fatal shooting of Soulemane Murbarak in West Haven Wednesday night. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after police released video of the incident captured by Trooper’s body-cameras and dash-cams.
The investigation is being overseen by New London State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan, who initially had asked the Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad to conduct the investigative work. That responsibility will now be assumed by Inspectors from the Division of Criminal Justice.
“The Division of Criminal Justice, and, in particular the State’s Attorneys, are well aware of the concerns that have arisen concerning the investigation of the use of deadly force by a Connecticut State Police trooper. In fact, the State’s Attorneys in recent months had already initiated discussions on the best practices for conducting such an investigation,” acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto said.
“The immediate concern has now brought this issue to the forefront and we are now implementing what was in the discussion stages in response to the immediate need to respond to this tragic incident in West Haven,” Russotto said.
Criminal Justice said the Inspectors assigned to the investigation will be selected from a group “whose names were put forth for this purpose during the recent planning discussions.”
Family, area clergy, and the Connecticut ACLU had all expressed concerns with members of the State Police investigating a fatal shooting by other members of the State Police.
At a press conference on Friday, New Haven area pastor and activist Rev. Boise Kimber asked “How can you police yourself? What we are asking for is that the U.S. Attorney will investigate this incident.”
Instead, the deadly shooting — which followed a pursuit along I-95 from Norwalk to West Haven that reportedly reached speeds of 100 m.p.h. — will be investigated by Police Inspectors who typically work for Connecticut’s criminal prosecutors.
According to Criminal Justice, “Police Inspectors are experienced sworn law enforcement officers who have the power of arrest. Their regular duties working with the State’s Attorneys in preparing homicides and other serious criminal cases for prosecution and investigative work in the specialized units in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney investigating cold cases, Medicaid fraud, Workers’ Compensation fraud and other crimes.”
“The Division of Criminal Justice extends its condolences to the family of Mr. Murbarak. It is our intention to complete this investigation in as timely a fashion as possible and to keep the family apprised to as great an extent as possible of the progress of the investigation. That said, it also must be noted that these are complex investigations involving substantial analysis by the forensic laboratory and other sources, which in and of themselves do take time. The Division of Criminal Justice will have no further comment at this time in that this is an ongoing, criminal investigation,” acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto said.