Black Montreal man victim of wrongful arrest wasn't racially profiled: report

·3 min read

MONTREAL — A Black Montreal man wrongfully arrested and detained for six days who is suing police and prosecutors for more than $1 million was not the victim of racial profiling, a judge concluded in a report released Friday.

Police and prosecutors acted reasonably in connection with the case in which Mamadi III Fara Camara was wrongfully arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a police officer on Jan. 28 in Montreal, Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne said.

"As to racial profiling, we are of the opinion that, in the particular circumstances of this case, Mr. Camara was not treated differently based on his race, colour or his ethnic origin," Dionne wrote in the report.

Camara spent six days in detention after he was arrested and accused of attacking a cop, stealing his service weapon and shooting at him. Video and DNA evidence ultimately exonerated Camara, and in late March, police arrested another person in connection with the alleged assault.

The Quebec government ordered an administrative investigation into Camara's arrest, detention and into the process that led to him being charged.

Dionne interviewed more than 60 officers during the investigation, which began in late February. He concluded in his 142-page report that the police officer who had initially stopped Camara for an alleged driving violation and those who proceeded with his arrest acted according to the rules.

The judge also found no fault in the actions of the Crown prosecutor who authorized charges, saying they had acted according to legal principles and standards based on the information given by investigators.

Dionne, however, said major crimes investigators should have set up a different investigation structure that could have led to a more detailed and quicker analysis of evidence that would have absolved Camara earlier.

The report contains 18 recommendations, including continuous training for patrollers, investigators and supervising officers. He also recommended adapting enforcement policy for high-risk vehicle stops in urban environments.

The city's police force welcomed the report's findings.

"Although the report notes that the police had to work in extraordinary circumstances … the fact remains that certain failings were observed," the police's media relations unit said in a statement Friday. "These relate in particular to the operating methods affecting the management of a major event, as well as the processes for the exchange of information."

Dionne had no recommendations for prosecutors who authorized the attempted murder charges against Camara.

"The conclusions of Justice Dionne confirm that the prosecutor who authorized the laying of charges against Mr. Camara complied with the applicable legal principles and the standards (per the directives)," the prosecutor's office wrote in a statement.

Lawyers representing Camara have argued police used abusive force and authorities engaged in racial profiling and illegal arrest and detention. Camara and his relatives have filed a $1.2-million lawsuit against police and prosecutors, claiming numerous abuses.

A lawyer representing Camara said they were studying the report and would comment at a later date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2021.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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