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

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

The remains of Terry Bearden’s property before a demolition crew came in to remove debris. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey arson case may have a lead thanks to reward offered by owner

Anonymous tip alleges the fire was set by three local males

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs Inc. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

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

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

(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

Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Most Read