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

City council reviewed the Growing Together report, and its vision for downtown Maple Ridge.
Pocket parks, walkability, safety are highlights of Maple Ridge downtown vision

Homelessness and crime could undermine vision for city says Robson

Discover Camping reservation service opens March 8 for the 2021 camping season. (The News files)
Camping reservations for B.C. parks opens March 8

Busy season expected again this year for Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

More affordable rental housing is needed in Maple Ridge says a city report. (Black Press Media files)
Report calls for more affordable housing for seniors and families in Maple Ridge

BC Housing conducting virtual dialogue sessions for Maple Ridge residents

Carnival and midway at the Ridge Meadows Home Show. (The News files)
Ridge Meadows Home Show a no-go this year

Executive director Cass Winder disappointed, but hopeful for next year

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

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

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

Most Read