Mamadi Camara is launching a lawsuit after he was wrongfully arrested, detained for nearly a week and accused of the attempted murder of a Montreal police officer earlier this year.
The firm of Arsenault Dufresne Wee announced the move in a statement on Wednesday morning. The law firm is representing Camara, his wife, other family members and a neighbour.
They are collectively seeking $1.2 million in compensation from the City of Montreal, its police department and the Quebec Crown prosecutor’s office.
Camara was arrested Jan. 28 after Montreal police Const. Sanjay Vig was allegedly disarmed and attacked following a traffic stop in the city’s Parc-Extension borough.
The 31-year-old PhD student spent almost a week in detention when prosecutors dropped all the charges against him after they said evidence had surfaced absolving him. In late March, arrested another person in connection with the case.
In early February, police Chief Sylvain Caron also declared Camara’s innocence and formally apologized to him in the days that followed. At the time, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomed the police force’s declaration and extended her own apology to Camara and his family.
The lawsuit claims Camara is the victim of racial profiling, abusive force from police officers, an illegal arrest and two naked strip searches — among other allegations.
“Mr. Camara is an innocent man who is seeking justice,” said Justin Wee, the lawyer representing Camara.
“All these events would never occur if he wasn’t a Black man.”
In the lawsuit, Camara alleges that Vig — the officer who was allegedly attacked — engaged in racial profiling and made false statements that led Camara to be identified as the suspect. He also alleges police used excessive force, pulling him through the driver’s side window of his car and placing a boot on his head to immobilize him.
The suit goes on to allege his detention conditions were cruel and unusual, and officers failed to treat him with respect.
It also alleges that police sat on the evidence that eventually exonerated Camara for six days — the entire time he was detained. Meanwhile, it continues, police released information to the media “in order to damage Mr. Camara’s reputation” and turn public opinion against him.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
City, prosecutors acknowledge lawsuit
In a statement, a spokesperson for Plante’s cabinet said the city is aware of the lawsuit and is “very sensitive” to what Camara experienced and “would like all the light to be shed on this issue, while respecting the rights of all those involved.”
“As Judge Louis Dionne’s investigative report is expected by August, we will wait to read it before commenting on Mr. Camara’s case,” the statement reads.
“What is clear is that Mr. Camara’s appeal does not change our desire to collaborate with him.”
The city’s legal department is analyzing the lawsuit and will continue to co-operate with the investigation, it adds.
Montreal police say they cannot comment on the matter so as to not interfere with the legal proceedings.
Quebec’s Crown prosecutor office issued a similar statement, saying it is aware of the lawsuit but cannot address the case due to legal proceedings.
—with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press