Lawyers representing Mamadi Camara say an inquiry into his wrongful arrest, detention and charged was flawed.
“We wanted a more transparent inquiry with possibility of counter-interrogating witnesses,” explained Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, Camara’s attorney.
Last January, Camara, who is Black, was arrested and accused of disarming and assaulting a Montreal police officer. After being detained for almost a week, prosecutors dropped the charges citing new evidence.
Camara’s arrest and indictment prompted the provincial government to launch an independent investigation.
His lawyers, however, aren’t satisfied.
“Because it’s a one-side administrative inquiry,” stressed Dufresne-Lemire.
She said Camara, through his attorneys, didn’t get to question witnesses.
In findings released on Sept. 3, Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne found that Camara “was not treated differently based on his race, color or his ethnic origin.”
“Incompetence, negligence, systemic racism and unconscious bias provide essential insight in our view,” she argued.
The judge made 18 recommendations for how the police could have acted differently, but wrote that officers “Constable Vig had reasonable grounds to stop the vehicle driven by Mr. Camara …” and that “the police officers who arrested Mr. Camara within minutes of the assault, had reasonable and probable grounds to do so …”
Dionne also noted, “Taking into account the information received from the principal investigator, Me Charette was justified to authorize the charges sought against Mr. Camara within the meaning of directive ACC-3 of DPCP.”
Camara’s legal team maintains there was much evidence to the contrary.
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations agrees there are still many gaps.
“I think it’s more important to look at whether systemic racism played a role than just focusing only on the racial profiling component,” he noted.
Niemi stressed it’s not just about Camara being arrested but also the process which led to him being charged which needs to be investigated.
Camara is suing the city, the police department and crown prosecutor’s office. His attorneys hope that civil suit will provide the answers they’re seeking.