MONTREAL — Following a public outcry, Montreal Police Chief Sylvain Caron was forced to issue a public apology Feb. 5 to Mamadi III Fara Camara, a 31-year-old Black graduate student and Uber driver. He was brutalized in his apartment here Jan. 28 by cops and falsely accused of attacking a cop earlier in the day.
After Camara had been stopped by Constable Sanjay Vig on suspicion of using a cellphone while driving near where he lives, the cop was attacked, disarmed and shot. Camara was arrested and beaten that night, and spent six days in jail facing charges of attempting to murder a police officer.
When he was brought to court Feb. 3 the charges were suddenly dropped by the Quebec prosecutor, and he was immediately set free. Surveillance cameras, the prosecutors said, showed that a completely different person had carried out the attack.
Political reaction to the embarrassing prosecution announcement was swift. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said Camara was obviously innocent and called for an independent investigation into the actions of the cops and prosecutors. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said what happened was “disturbing.”
Caron made his “apology” at a Feb. 5 press conference, saying the new evidence “allowed us to exonerate Mr. Camara.”
At the same time, a “Justice for Camara” rally of 100 was taking place close to the spot where he had been stopped. Many protesters accused the cops of racial profiling.
Beverly Bernardo, Communist League candidate for mayor of Montreal, joined the action. “We have to hold the police accountable for actions like this,” she said in an interview with CBC television. “They should be charged.”
Some participants carried signs calling for “Justice for Bony Jean-Pierre,” a young Black man who had been shot and killed by the police during a drug raid in 2016. The previous day a judge dismissed manslaughter charges against the cop who killed him.
La Ligue des Noirs Nouvelle Generation, a Black rights group, has called a second rally to protest the police victimization of Camara for Feb. 13 at Place d’Armes downtown here.