Mamadi III Fara Camara had been arrested on January 28. The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) accused him of having disarmed and injured a policeman from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) after the latter intercepted him for cell phone use while driving.
Although the 31-year-old accused claimed his innocence, he spent six days in detention until Wednesday. The DPCP, in the person of the prosecutor Me Anne-Andrée Charette, that day announced in court a stay of proceedings against him: a rare fact.
A video of the events would have enabled Mr. Camara to be released. Another suspect allegedly committed the attempted murder against the SPVM agent.
The criminal lawyer Me Cedric Materne, of Riendeau Avocats, defended Mamadi Camara in this case. He explains to Droit-inc what happened.
If I understand correctly, your client is not yet cleared?
What must be understood is that the DPCP has requested a stay of proceedings for now. The investigation is still ongoing, but there is not enough evidence to continue to keep Mr. Camara in detention.
Yesterday what happened was not a bleach or anything. We are stopping the proceedings against Mr. Camara for the moment because we do not have enough information to retain him, and we are continuing the investigation to see where it will lead us.
Was it you who asked to see the video?
The video, we only received it yesterday morning around 10 or 10:30.
We arrived, we were ready to proceed in this case, and that’s when the prosecution got up and mentioned to the judge that there was a video and that she was in analyzing it to find out what it was.
By the time the DPCP looked at it, and we looked at it, we came back, there was a discussion, they analyzed the file and that is what led to the conclusion of the DPCP yesterday.
Have you seen the video yourself?
Yes, we saw her.
What can you say about it?
It is a video from the Quebec Ministry of Transport that shows the metropolitan highway. The images are still relatively blurry. It’s not as if they were, for example, direct images.
It was a video that was among all the evidence, but even before having this video, with the evidence that we had received, we detected a huge problem on the identification of the assailant of the agent.
This meant that the video did not play an extremely major role, because we already had good points with the proof that had already been given to us. Subsequently, is that really what tipped the scales for the DPCP, that, I cannot speak for them.
As for the proof that we already had, the identification was major. There was a problem.
So the identification was based only on the police officer’s testimony?
If we do one plus one, it looks a lot like this.
What was the main element of the video that freed your client?
The video, I can’t talk much about it because it’s still under investigation. But we watched it, and it’s not the clearest video in history!
But what we understand is that with the proof that there was already, the testimonies of witnesses who spoke of what had happened and with the video, it shed light on the fact that he There is a third person who was involved in this, and that it is this third person who allegedly assaulted the SPVM agent.
That would agree with the fact that they did not find the weapon of the assaulted agent …
Exactly! The weapon is still not found. We are talking about a major investigation anyway, so obviously if the weapon is not found on Mr. Camara, we can say that indeed the aggressor left with the weapon.
What was there as evidence against your client, ultimately?
He was on the scene, he was with the SPVM agent, but subsequently there are several testimonies that come into play in the evidence.
We, from our point of view in defense at Riendeau Avocats, what we saw is that there was indeed not much to do with Mr. Camara’s very guilt. The identification was so incomplete that we, in our heads, we knew.
It wasn’t him.
So you, you already knew that Mr. Camara had not committed the crime!
Exact! We already knew that. We were several lawyers working on this, and it quickly jumped in our face that it wasn’t him.
Your client himself claimed to be innocent.
He has always claimed his innocence, and that is extremely important to say.
In this case, we have a lot of questions to ask, not only about the work that has been done by all those involved in this, but also about Mr. Camara’s presumption of innocence.
There was none, presumption of innocence.
The media quickly made sure he was the culprit. There is not only Mr. Camara in there, there is his whole family!
Including his wife, who is pregnant with twins!
Correct, and this perception of society where we arrest the person (for a crime) and directly it is the person who committed it, and six days later when that, it happens, well we are the first shocked to say to themselves “Well let’s see, that doesn’t make sense”!
The presumption of innocence in this matter has taken its money.
This is something to always remember in criminal law, it is the most important thing: every citizen in Canada is innocent until proven guilty.
Obviously, in Mr. Camara’s case, in my opinion, we have to think about socially to say what we do with this presumption of innocence.
Much ink has been written about the situation. Some wonder if this would have happened if Mr. Camara hadn’t been black. What do you think?
If we start talking about systemic racism, I don’t want to go into it. It’s not my job to do that.
My job is to look at the evidence, analyze it and ask myself if it holds up or not, regardless of our client’s skin color. Our job is really to look at it and see if the police and the DPCP would be able to go somewhere with that evidence. And if it’s no, I’ll make sure it’s demonstrated.
It is quite rare that an accused of attempted murder is released. Has it happened often, to your knowledge?
I haven’t seen them very often. Even the judge mentioned it at the time of the Crown’s declaration. It is extremely rare that this happens.
We are not talking about a stay of proceedings in a case of impaired driving, we are talking about attempted murder on an SPVM agent! It’s enormous!
There are questions that must be asked at the level of the SPVM, at the level of how the file was made. A lot of things need to be analyzed, and I know that this issue has moved a lot of things.
What I find a bit deplorable in this is that we have to end up with a man who ends up in detention for six days when he has done absolutely nothing, to move the cards and tell yourself that there may be a problem somewhere.
It must have been a pretty emotional moment yesterday. How did you experience that with your client?
Listen, we as such already had the information, we received it a few minutes before. I spoke with Mr. Camara, explained to him and he was extremely relieved and very satisfied with the DPCP statement yesterday.
Obviously, it is extremely emotional! As I tell you, sir has claimed his innocence from the start. Since his arrest, he said it wasn’t him.
He did everything to say “It’s not me”, and six days later to be told that he is right, it sure arouses a lot of emotions. You also saw him, his family who were present. I think it spoke a lot. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say! Both Mr. Camara and his family were extremely relieved about what happened yesterday.
On the cabinet side too! When I heard the news and shared it with the firm … All the work we put into it paid off! We were extremely relieved, we were extremely happy with this decision by the DPCP.
How did your client experience their six days in detention before the decision was made?
What I can tell you is that for sure he was in shock. We are talking about a person who was arrested and then detained, and who spends six days in detention.
Of course he was scared in detention. Not necessarily scared because of his safety, but he was sure he was in nothing. He claims his innocence, he knows he didn’t do anything, he wonders what will happen. He was extremely shocked at what happened.
Do you know if your client will file a civil complaint?
If he has to assert his rights, he will do so in due course. At this time, that decision is not made. He’s sure he’s thinking about it. But I think he has other things to think about beforehand.
We will be there to support him. Yes, we do criminal law, but we will refer him, we will guide him, we will support him.
We will closely follow the evolution of the situation to find out what is happening, given the link we have with Mr. Camara. Obviously, we keep this link, we are always in communication.