Montreal Police police car seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Montreal Police police car seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Calls for inquiry mount after Montreal man exonerated in cop assault case

Mamadi III Fara Camara was detained for six days before his name was cleared

Politicians and civil rights groups said Thursday an independent investigation is needed to determine how a Montreal man ended up in jail for almost a week before allegations that he tried to kill a police officer were suddenly dropped.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante called for a probe into the actions of police and prosecutors in the case of Mamadi III Fara Camara, who was detained for six days before his name was cleared.

“The fact that an innocent man was put into jail for no reason, I care, I feel for this person and I do feel for his family as well, and I’m sorry for what he had to go through,” Plante told reporters outside city hall.

Plante denounced the situation as “unacceptable,” and said she was speaking with the province regarding the format of an eventual independent inquiry. Among other elements, she said the probe should examine whether racial profiling played a part in the incident.

Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped all charges against Camara, who is Black, after evidence surfaced exonerating him.

Camara was arrested Jan. 28 after a police officer was allegedly disarmed and attacked following a traffic stop in Montreal’s Parc-Extension borough. Camara was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault of a peace officer, disarming a peace officer and illegally discharging a firearm.

Quebec’s public security minister suggested on Twitter that an investigation was forthcoming.

“The circumstances that led to the indictment of Mr. Mamadi Fara Camara must be examined,” Genevieve Guilbault wrote. She said the province would work with the City of Montreal to determine the “optimal formula” for the probe, while still respecting the ongoing Montreal police investigation into the alleged attack.

Montreal police Chief Sylvain Caron described the situation as “unfortunate” and said he sympathized with Camara, but he offered no apology.

“For the moment, Mr. Camara is free and remains an important witness,” he told reporters outside police headquarters.

“As I said earlier, if at an appropriate moment the (Montreal police) need to apologize, we will apologize when we have all the necessary elements to do so.”

READ MORE: Police ask for help identifying suspect after boy sexually assaulted in Surrey park

Caron defended the actions of the officers who investigated the case, which he described earlier in the day as “exceptionally complex,” adding that he was not opposed to an independent observer verifying their work.

Police said earlier Thursday in a statement that an analysis of the evidence, including a video, suggests the presence of an additional person at the crime scene. “The continuous work of the investigators allowed, yesterday, for a new analysis of the evidence no longer supporting charges towards the suspect initially apprehended,” the statement read.

Joanie Chainey, one of Camara’s lawyers, said her client was “relieved” to be home but still in shock over what happened.

She said Camara had received a ticket from the police officer on the day of the incident and was on the scene when the altercation took place, but he did not commit the crime. She said the evidence against Camara, who has no criminal record, was “clearly and only circumstantial,” and she echoed the call for a deeper investigation.

“There’s so many questions that need to be answered,” she said.

“We have a man who had no priors who was arrested based on circumstantial evidence, he remained detained for six days before being released because of the fact that the evidence wasn’t strong enough.”

She said her client was considering the option of legal action against the city.

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor says new city cops could patrol with RCMP by mid-2020

Earlier, Quebec’s opposition political parties, municipal politicians and a civil rights organization joined the calls for an independent investigation into how Camara came to be arrested and detained for so long.

The provincial Liberals said the situation was “terrible” for Camara, his pregnant wife and for the police officer who was attacked. “The work of the police during the altercation and the arrest of Mr. Camara, as well as the work of the prosecutors who have laid charges, must be fully analyzed,” three of its critics said in a joint statement.

A civil rights group said in a statement that the arrest of Camara, a 31-year-old doctoral student, “raises serious questions” about the conduct of police and judicial authorities, including the possibility of racial profiling.

“Despite all promises and endlessly repeated commitments by the Montreal administration to eliminate racial profiling by the (Montreal police), we are always back to the same point: being Black is a risk when facing police in Montreal,” the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations said in a statement.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Police

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

School District 8 is considering moving some programs out of Central School to make more room. Photo: Tyler Harper
SD8 considers moving Wildflower classes, REACH program out of Central School

The district says the building is set to operate over capacity in the fall

A emergency response team assisted the RCMP in apprehending a woman in Kaslo who was barricaded in her house on March 1. File photo
RCMP apprehend woman barricaded in Kaslo house

The woman had been writing threatening messages about taking hostages, police say

A byelection will be held on March 27 to fill the council seat vacated by Brittny Anderson, who is now the MLA for Nelson-Creston. File photo
Meet the Nelson byelection candidates at online forum

Event sponsored by Nelson at its Best will take place online March 11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read