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

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

Black Montreal man wrongfully arrested, charged in cop attack says he was traumatized

The government has ordered an independent investigation into the case

A Black Montreal man wrongfully arrested, charged with attempted murder of a police officer and detained for six days says he’s traumatized by the events that turned his life upside down in late January.

Mamadi III Fara Camara appeared Sunday on the popular Radio-Canada talk show, “Tout le monde en parle,” with his lawyer Virginie Dufresne-Lemire — his first interview since being exonerated.

Camara told the program he wasn’t permitted to speak to his family while in detention and described a harrowing six days in jail waiting for the case to play out. He said when he arrived at the detention centre he felt the guards perceived him as a “monster.”

He said it “was a great relief” to learn he had been cleared of all charges.

“… but I expected it because since the day of my arrest, I have never ceased to proclaim my innocence,” Camara said. “If they had listened to me from that day to understand my story, maybe it would not have taken six days.”

Camara was arrested Jan. 28 after a police officer was allegedly disarmed and attacked with his own service weapon, following a traffic stop in Montreal’s Parc Extension borough.

He told the television hosts that after receiving a ticket for allegedly driving with a cellphone in his hand, he never left his vehicle. Dufresne-Lemire said for legal reasons, her client couldn’t go any further into the details of the case, but said she could tell his story.

She said Camara had witnessed the assault on the officer and had called 911 from his car seat. A police officer who spoke to Camara at the scene took his story and told him he could leave, Dufresne-Lemire said.

The lawyer said by the time Camara got to his house — which wasn’t far from the crime scene — the street was blocked off and he was stopped by police. The injured officer had suspected his attacker was the last person he had stopped for an alleged traffic violation, she said.

Dufresne-Lemire said what happened was a clear case of “tunnel vision” by police officers, who she said focused on the attacked officer’s version of events and ignored other evidence — or lack thereof — in her client’s case.

She said officers drew their weapons at Camara and pulled him out of his car through the car window. While he was on the ground, an officer put a foot on his head to immobilize him, Dufresne-Lemire said.

Following his arrest, she said an officer spoke to Camara and concluded in a written report that he was a witness. Camara nonetheless underwent hours of interrogations and was jailed for six days.

He was released after prosecutors said evidence had surfaced absolving him. A few days later, DNA evidence cleared Camara conclusively and Montreal’s police chief apologized publicly Feb. 5. Chief Sylvain Caron also visited Camara’s home and apologized to him personally.

No arrests have been made in the attack on the officer.

Camara is a graduate student who oversees a lab at Polytechnique Montreal. His wife is pregnant with twins. He was welcomed back to campus but said the trauma has so far prevented him from working.

The government has ordered an independent investigation into the case, led by Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne, slated to begin Feb. 22.

Dufresne-Lemire said a transparent process is needed to get to the bottom of what happened, and she has not ruled out launching a civil suit against authorities.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

PoliceRacial injustice

Just Posted

Dep. Fire Chiefs Rich Piché (left) and Stephane Dionne said they were disappointed that only one person showed up at the George Evans fire hall’s recruitment drive Tuesday evening, May. 11. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue says rural fire hall at risk of closing

Home insurance could spike across North Fork if George Evans fire hall loses fire protection status

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A Canadian Pacific train derailed near Nelson on Tuesday evening. Photo: Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press
Canadian Pacific freight train derails near Nelson

There were no injuries or spills related to the incident

File photo.
The Way it Was

1916: Phoenix holds per capita automobile record

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Brad MacKenzie, advocacy chair for the ALS Society of B.C., says having research projects in the province allows people here to have access to cutting-edge treatments now being developed. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds research chair for Lou Gehrig’s disease at UBC

Pandemic has cut off patient access to international projects

Most Read