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A Timeline Of The Wrongful Arrest & Release Of Mamadi Camara — And What Happens Next

Camara has been totally exonerated.
A Timeline Of The Wrongful Arrest & Release Of Mamadi Camara — And What Happens Next

On February 3, authorities released Mamadi III Fara Camara from police custody after he was accused of attacking an SPVM officer.

Charges were abruptly stayed on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), who cited new information.

In a statement later in the day, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante declared that Camara is "innocent." The SPVM has since made clear that he has been exonerated, according to multiple reports.

Here's what has happened and what officials are saying now.

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Camara was wrongly accused of attacking an SPVM officer

According to a February 5 statement from the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), Officer Sanjay Vig was attacked "while he was issuing a statement of offence for a breach of the road safety code."

Camara was later arrested based on information from officer Vig as well as what the DPCP refers to as "circumstantial evidence."

"Before authorizing the laying of a charge, the prosecutor must be convinced that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction in light of the file submitted to them by the police," the DPCP explained.

"In principle," the statement continues, "the prosecutor must have a complete record when authorizing the laying of a charge. However, it is not exceptional [...] for the prosecutor to lay charges even when the file is not complete."

"New evidence" was submitted on February 3, which led the DPCP to "[conclude] that it [was] no longer possible to support the charges" against Camara.

He was finally released later that day after six days in detention.

What does Camara's lawyer have to say?

"With all of this circumstantial evidence, there were not enough elements to continue to pursue [this case]," Cédric Materne, Camara's lawyer, told MTL Blog.

Camara was released with no conditions.

"He was really relieved about the decision that was made by the Crown prosecutor's office," Materne said.

The lawyer said that Camara was "shocked and scared" during his time in detention.

"We here at the firm are really happy, as well, but I think there are a lot of questions that need to be asked about what has happened in the file."

What does the SPVM have to say?

In a statement published Thursday, SPVM Chief Sylvain Caron said the ongoing investigation into the attempted murder of an officer is "exceptionally complex."

The SPVM said its "investigators deployed all of the usual investigative methods and strategies in their search for truth and justice as part of their public safety mission."

"At this time," the statement continued, "the combination of all the evidence allows us to consider the presence of an additional person at the scene of the event on the night of the crime."

On Friday, following public outcry, SPVM Chief Sylvain Caron publicly apologized to Camara, confirming he had been exonerated, according to reports.

There are calls for an investigation into what happened

Multiple political leaders, including Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, have called for an investigation into the incident.

"What we want is for there to be an investigation — an investigation that is neutral and that takes place quickly," Plante said Thursday.

"We can't wait."

On Friday, the mayor said she welcomes the SPVM's apology and called on authorities to "redouble" efforts to "shed light on what happened."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also chimed in on Friday. He called the arrest of Camara, which took place in his riding of Papineau, "troubling."

Deputy Premier and Minister for Public Security Geneviève Guilbault said Thursday the government is working with the City of Montreal to reach an "optimal formula" to "examine" what happened "while respecting the SPVM's investigation, which is still ongoing."

Plante says it's a matter of public trust

"It's necessary to shed light [on the incident] quickly so as to not tarnish the work that is done every day but also the relationship of trust that is essential in a big city like Montreal [...] between the police service and citizens," the mayor said on Thursday.

She said she believes it's important to avoid putting "everyone [in the police force] in the same basket," but added, "we can't deny that what happened with Mr. Camara but also other incidents of potential social and racial profiling lead us to ask questions as citizens."

She called on the SPVM and DPCP to commit to transparency.

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