Photo of Senator Looney.

Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

Representing New Haven, Hamden & North Haven

Looney Calls for Review of Deadly Force Laws

In Response to the Death of Mubarak Soulemane, Looney Calls for Action from Judiciary Committee

HARTFORD, CT (January 30, 2020) - Today, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) sent the following letter to the chairs of the Judiciary Committee calling for a review of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-22 and the justification of deadly force used by police.

Senator Looney wrote the letter in response to the death of New Haven resident Mubarak Soulemane which reveals exactly why the law needs attention and examination.

In the letter Senator Looney asks, "A teenager is now dead, his family has suffered a great loss and trauma, and the question many of us are asking, as we have after so many such incidents, is why?"

The full letter can be seen below.

Honorable Gary Winfield, Co-Chair
Honorable Steven Stafstrom, Co-Chair
Joint Committee on Judiciary
Legislative Office Building, Room 2500
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Senator Winfield and Representative Strafstrom,

As the Judiciary Committee begins its important work for the 2020 session, I ask that you review Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-22 and the justification of deadly force used by police.

The unfortunate death of Mubarak Soulemane reveals exactly why the law needs attention and examination. Although I am eager to review the State's Attorney’s report once the investigation is complete, having reviewed the body cam footage released to the public, it is immensely disturbing that a person sitting in the driver's seat, with the car doors closed, surrounded by three officers with guns drawn, was shot in the manner he was. From what was revealed by the released video of the encounter, there was no imminent threat to the officers or to a third person at the moment the officer used deadly force. A teenager is now dead, his family has suffered a great loss and trauma, and the question many of us are asking, as we have after so many such incidents, is why?

In order to maintain the public’s faith in our officers, we must ensure police are held accountable when force is not justified, that our laws permitting use of force are not unnecessarily broad, and that police are trained to avoid actions that increase the likelihood deadly force will be used, whether justified or not. It has now been thirty-five years since the U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner struck down the “fleeing felon” rule that authorized deadly force in pursuit of any felon who might escape capture, and instead mandated that deadly force may be used only where there is imminent danger of death or serious harm to the law enforcement officer or to a third person. Despite this clear ruling, law enforcement too often appears to struggle with its proper application.

Thank you for your past leadership on matters public of safety and police accountability, especially your efforts on transparency that have directly led to the timely release of more body cam footage. This initiative undoubtedly creates more public focus on the use of deadly force by police. I trust you will give this matter the urgent attention it deserves.

Sincerely,

Martin M. Looney
President Pro Tempore

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