Wrongfully arrested last winter, PhD student launched $1.2M lawsuit against city

CBC News · Posted: Feb 23, 2022 1

Camara was in the midst of completing his PhD when he was wrongfully arrested by Montreal police in January 2021. (Charles Dumouchel/Radio-Canada)

Mamadi III Fara Camara, a Black Montrealer student who was wrongfully arrested and detained by Montreal police for six days last year, has reached a settlement with the City of Montreal. 

Camara, his family and neighbours launched a lawsuit against the city in July in which they alleged he was the victim of a “bungled investigation based on racial profiling.” They were asking for $1.2 million in compensation for physical and psychological damages.

Camara’s lawyer, Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, says her client and the city reached a settlement in the past few days. Radio-Canada sources say the amount was $347,000.

“It was a settlement that concluded quite fast, so we’re really happy with the approach that the city took in this case,” Dufresne-Lemire said. 

“Mr. Camara is satisfied, being able to put this behind him and put his energy on his family.” 

The lawyer said Camara also wanted to thank Quebecers “for the support [they] showed during the whole year.” She said she could not reveal the terms of the agreement because they are confidential.

Alain Vaillancourt, the City of Montreal executive committee member responsible for public security, said the negotiations were amicable. 

“We’re happy because it was done together, and both parties are satisfied,” Vaillancourt said. “We’re also very happy that Mr. Camara will be able to go on with his life.”

Camara spent six nights in jail from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2021 and was charged with attempted murder, assaulting a police officer and disarming a police officer. He was cleared of all charges two days later. 

The lawsuit says Camara was the victim of “excessive police force” and suffered harm from a “serious damage to his reputation.”

People take part in a protest to denounce police abuses and in support of Camara and his family on Feb. 5, 2021 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Camara, a trained engineer who supervised a laboratory at École Polytechnique de Montréal, was barred from campus, and his duties were suspended during the criminal proceedings for the attempted murder charge.

Several members of Camara’s family, including his wife and in-laws, as well as his neighbours were also part of the lawsuit.

They were suing the city and the Crown for amounts ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 for the suffering caused by the ordeal.

Other damages mentioned in the lawsuit include police ransacking Camara’s and his neighbours’ apartment in search of evidence, although he didn’t go home between the time of the alleged assault and his arrest. 

Arrest drew global attention

Camara, who is from Guinea, arrived in Canada in 2017 on a temporary student visa, which expired in May. The lawsuit also said the disruption to his work prevented him from completing his studies on time, putting his status in Canada in jeopardy. 

Following the controversy, the House of Commons unanimously moved a motion to grant him permanent residence status.

Camara’s wrongful arrest drew global attention and sparked wider discussions about discriminatory policing in Canada. 

The lawsuit says the prejudice Camara faced at the hands of police caused him to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and insomnia.

Despite the claims, Montreal police insisted Camara’s arrest was not due to racial profiling. 

Two months after Camara was exonerated, a suspect was arrested in Toronto for the assault on the Montreal police officer, Const. Sanjay Vig. 

Ali Ngarukiye, 21, was arrested in March 2021 and was accused of attempted murder, aggravated assault against a police officer, disarming a police officer and discharging a firearm.

Source: CBC News