Quebec launches investigation into wrongful arrest by Montreal police

The Quebec government has announced it will hold an investigation into the wrongful arrest of Mamadi III Fara Camara, in the face of questions about the conduct of Montreal police.

Province to examine circumstances surrounding arrest of Mamadi III Fara Camara

People took part in a protest to denounce police abuse and in support of Mamadi Camara and his family last Friday in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government has announced it will hold an investigation into the wrongful arrest of Mamadi III Fara Camara, in the face of mounting questions about the conduct of Montreal police.

Camara, a 31-year-old PhD student, spent six nights in detention after he was arrested Jan. 28 before being completely exonerated last week. 

He had been charged after a police officer was disarmed and attacked following a traffic stop in Montreal's Parc-Extension neighbourhood.

The Crown stayed the charges last Wednesday, moments before a scheduled bail hearing. On Friday, it confirmed it would no longer pursue the case against him.

Camara had claimed innocence from the moment of his arrest, his lawyers said. He has since received an apology from Sylvain Caron, Montreal's police chief.

While police insisted Camara's arrest was based strictly on the evidence, not profiling, civil rights activists say the incident is part of a larger pattern of discrimination.

WATCH | Legault won't speculate on officers' motives:

Legault won't speculate if Camara's arrest was racially motivated

3 years ago
Duration 0:36
Featured VideoThe premier said he will wait for Justice Dionne to make his investigation.

In a news release, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced the investigation will be led by Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne.

It was ordered by Guilbault under a section of the province's Police Act that stipulates: "The minister, or a person designated by the minister, may investigate any police force."

Guilbault said the goal will be to understand what transpired in the lead up to Camara's arrest, and come up with recommendations to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

The investigation will begin Feb. 22 and last up to five months.

Premier François Legault said Tuesday the investigation will help determine if racism contributed to Camara's arrest.

"I think that Mr. Dionne will be able to answer this question," he said. Legault has repeatedly denied the existence of systemic racism in Quebec.

Camara has retained the services of Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a lawyer who specializes in cases of police brutality and wrongful arrest.

On Radio-Canada's Tout un matin, Dufresne-Lemire said Camara is considering legal action against Montreal police and the City of Montreal.

"He is still very upset,"  Dufresne-Lemire said. "It was an excessively traumatizing experience."

In a statement, Montreal police said it would co-operate with the investigation. 

"We respect the decision made and will be transparent throughout the process," the statement said.

WATCH | Demonstrators rally in solidarity with wrongfully arrested man:

Rally shows solidarity with Black Montreal man wrongfully charged with attempted murder

3 years ago
Duration 2:06
Featured VideoSome protesters at a rally held in solidarity with Mamadi III Fara Camara, a Black Montreal man who spent 6 nights in jail after being wrongfully charged with attempted murder, allege his arrest was racially motivated.