Mamadi Camara's lawyers slam report on his arrest, say only trial can reveal truth

·2 min read
Mamadi Camara's lawyers say he read last week's report on his arrest, and it was an
Mamadi Camara's lawyers say he read last week's report on his arrest, and it was an

Mamadi Camara's lawyers say last week's report into his wrongful arrest and detainment was "one-sided," adding that only a civil trial can reveal the truth about what he endured at the hands of Montreal police and the justice system.

Camara, a Black man, spent six days in jail last winter after being arrested for assaulting a police officer. He was later exonerated, and Montreal police issued a public apology for what he went through.

In February, the Quebec government appointed Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne to investigate the SPVM's conduct leading up to, and after, Camara's arrest.

Dionne found SPVM investigators made a series of procedural mistakes. Without those errors, the judge said, Camara could have been released much earlier, likely the same day he was arrested.

But the judge did not agree that Camara was racially profiled. That conclusion baffled his lawyers.

"How do we explain the reasons why the investigation was done so badly?" said Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, Camara's lawyer, during a news conference on Tuesday.

In his report, the judge explained that surveillance footage that helped exonerate Camara was available as soon as the investigation began, but was only properly reviewed and assessed five days later.

Dufresne-Lemire said the SPVM's work displayed "incompetence, gross negligence, systemic racism and unconscious bias."

"We believe that a trial now is all the more important," she said.

Camara is suing the City of Montreal and Crown prosecutors for close to $1 million.

His lawyer said Camara read the report, describing it as an "excessively painful exercise" for her client.

Karine Dufour/Avanti
Karine Dufour/Avanti

Camara declined to take part in judge's investigation

Dionne interviewed dozens of people before producing the report — including Montreal police officers and employees with the Crown prosecutor's office — but Camara was not one of them.

His lawyers declined the request to take part in the judge's investigation.

When asked why Camara didn't participate, his lawyers said reliving last winter's experience would have been difficult for her client.

They also said Camara could have participated if they were allowed to be present during the interviews and ask their own questions to the people involved.

"It can't just be, 'I'll meet you for one hour, two hours, or three hours, go home and then I'll send you a report after,'" said Alain Arsenault, another lawyer representing Camara.

"If we had a full investigation, maybe behind closed doors, where we could've questioned police officers ourselves, questioned the investigators, the offer would've probably been accepted. But that's not what this was."

DIonne's report included 18 recommendations, with many of them having to do with improving police training and procedures for what was described as "major events."

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