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

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

Just Posted

Greg Janicki (left), owner of Dogwood Pet Mart rasied $410 this year for the Campbell River SPCA’s Loonies for Love fundraiser which he presented to Stephanie Arkwright, branch manager of the BCSPCA – Campbell River Community Animal Centre. Photo contributed
Pandemic doesn’t stop annual Loonies for Love SPCA fundraiser

Fundraising has been a bit challenging over the past year, but the… Continue reading

NIC Engineering student Johnny Marshall lowers a prototype oyster grow-out system into the ocean for testing in Campbell River. Photo courtesy NIC
NIC partners with Cortes shellfish company on oyster research

Study and testing hoping to mitigate the impacts of warming oceans on oyster mortality

The intersection at Dogwood Street and 13th Avenue, next to the No. 1 Firehall, will see some improvements over the next six weeks or so, according to the city. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Intersection improvements coming to Dogwood and 13th Avenue

Expect delays for up to six weeks once work begins, city says

Oyster River fire has responded to 56 calls so far in 2021. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Department
Oyster River Fire averaged one call per day in busy February

One weekend saw 12 calls for service from crew

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for their upcoming virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline Musical Theatre hoping for last minute ticket surge

Popular annual run of shows costs $7,000-$8,000 to put on. They’ve sold $750 in tickets

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

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

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Ongoing Bamfield roadwork unrelated to planned $30M fix

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade ordered in wake of fatal bus crash

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Protesters gather at Victoria courthouse to oppose Port Renfrew logging

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

Most Read