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

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

(File photo/Lauren Collins Vana)
Ponoka cat owners have until July 1, 2021 to purchase licenses

Town council passed new Animal Control Bylaw Feb. 23

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Most Read