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

Fort St. James municipal office. (Aman Parhar/Caledonia Courier)
Fort St. James officials challenge Telus on internet speeds

Telus denies inaccurate internet data, residents urged to self-test and report

(Fort St. James fire department photo/Facebook)
Fort St. James fire department celebrating 66 years

The department hopes to have a community-based celebration at 70

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Local Canfor workers among those taking government-sponsored early retirement.  (Black Press file photo)
Local workers take up government retirement offer

Program to buffer forest industry closures

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

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

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read