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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Matt Gurney: Ottawa cop doesn't learn from "learning experience" in brutality

November 18, 2010
Matt Gurney, National Post

On Wednesday, we heard about an Ottawa-woman subjected to an illegal arrest and a beating by Ottawa police officers for no apparent reason at all. After being stopped while walking to a friend’s house, and then let go, Stacy Bonds …

… stopped and asked them why they’d stopped her in the first place.

That got her handcuffed, thrown in the back of a cruiser and spirited off to the police station, where police pulled her hair, kneed her in the back a couple of times, slammed her to the ground with a riot shield, cut off her clothes and bra while a few male officers watched, and strip-searched her.

The Ottawa police are investigating themselves, of course, and we all know how those usually end up: An officer might be sent to bed without any supper. But it turns out that this isn’t the first time one of these officers has been involved in a case like this. Why am I not surprised?

Just four days before Bonds’ arrest, on Sept. 2, 2008, Sgt. Steven Desjourdy, one of the officers involved, used excessive force on an aggressive woman who he kicked and shocked with a Taser while in custody.

The details of the earlier case are somewhat different. In the first case, the woman was drunk and hostile and spat on a police officer. She later pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting an officer. But still, the facts of the case were disturbing enough that Desjourdy was demoted to constable for 90 days, which the adjudicator called a significant punishment. Then the adjudicator had this to say:

“You’re obviously a very good police officer with an exceptional career. These things are a learning experience for us police officers.”

You know, I’m not an adjudicator, but I get the feeling that if the average citizen did to a cop what this cop has done to two women, the law enforcement community probably wouldn’t deem it an important learning experience. Why a police officer should get special dispensation to treat other people with brutality is a mystery. We entrust these people with law and order, to be enforced on our behalf, if necessary, with state-sanctioned violence. They owe us better than this.

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