Mamadi Camara sues Montreal police for $1.2 million for wrongful arrest
MONTREAL -- Mamadi Camara, the Montrealer who was wrongfully arrested and detained for six days in January, is suing the police for $1.2 million.
The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of Camara, his wife and four other family members and neighbours in the apartment where they live.
The statement of claim alleges there is evidence that the police officer who arrested Camara racially profiled him. The document also alleged the officer wrongfully accused him of using a cellphone while driving and used excessive force in placing his boot on his head during the altercation.
During the traffic stop on Jan. 28, an eyewitness said it was, in fact, another man who managed to grab Officer Sanjay Vig's firearm and shoot at him before the officer ran away. Vig accused Camara of the crime, which led to his detention in jail for six days.
In March, police arrested a new suspect in the investigation -- an Ontario man -- due to DNA evidence collected from the scene, which cleared Camara of any wrongdoing. Ali Ngarukiye, 21, was arrested in Toronto. He faces several charges, including attempted murder, intentionally discharging a prohibited firearm, disarming a peace officer, aggravated assault on a peace officer and theft of a vehicle.
Camara, a 31-year-old PhD student, was blamed for the attack because he was Black and the responding officer acted in a “hasty” manner to put someone in handcuffs, according to the lawsuit.
“The only reason why Mr. Camara was so relentlessly pursued despite the corroborating evidence and the opinion of three officers that he was only a witness is the color of his skin and his ethnic origin,” the statement of claim alleged.
“This treatment stems from conscious or unconscious stereotyping and bias on the part of the police officers who wanted to find officers who wanted to find a perpetrator quickly.”
Camara lost his two jobs after the arrest and suffers from irreparable harm from the ordeal, according to the lawsuit.
“His arrest for attempted murder of a police officer made news around the world, even in his own country of Guinea,” the lawsuit alleged. “Despite the stay of proceedings, he fears that a doubt remains in the mind of the public and potential employers; his name being forever associated with the brutal violent assault on a police officer.”
None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been tested or proven in court.
Montreal police and the Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions are named as defendants in the suit.
In February, Montreal police apologized to Camara after the new evidence cleared his name.
"We want to offer our most sincere apologies to his family, and to him," Montreal Police Chief Sylvain Caron said at the time.
Speaking of Camara's family, including his wife who was pregnant with twins, Caron said that "we are human, we sympathize with them."
Camara's lawyer told the media Wednesday the police never followed up on their promise of a settlement, and it only confirms that the apologies from the police department were "insincere," and that Montreal police can't admit they did anything wrong.
Alain Arsenault said his client is still traumatized. Camara's wife gave birth to twins, who were born prematurely, which the couple said was not a coincidence. The lawye said they're rebuilding their lives, but they don't sleep much these days.
Camara's family members are included in the legal fight since they were repeatedly questioned by the police in the days following the arrest. His wife suffered stress from not being able to talk to her husband for six days while reading about him being charged with attempted murder.
The coverage of the incident made her feel ill to the point where she feared she might have a miscarriage, according to the statement of claim.
With files from Stephane Giroux