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Friday, November 26, 2010

Video shows Ottawa police cutting prisoner's bra

November 24, 2010
Andrew Seymour, Postmedia News

OTTAWA — Video of a wrongfully arrested Ottawa woman being kneed, pinned to the floor and her shirt and bra cut off with scissors has been released to the Ottawa Citizen.

The video of Stacy Bonds' treatment in the Ottawa police cells was central to Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie's decision on Oct. 27 to stay charges against her of assaulting police. The judge called her arrest and strip-search a "travesty."

In the video, which was recorded just before 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2008 and has no audio, Bonds can be seen being led through the police holding-cell area. The 27-year-old theatrical makeup artist with no criminal record does not appear to be resisting or aggressive.

Another camera angle then shows her being brought to a booking desk.

Bonds, who had been handcuffed, has her right arm come free from the handcuffs.

That's when Special Const. Melanie Morris knees Bonds twice in the leg and Bonds' head is violently jerked backward by the hair several times before she is forced forward against the counter.

Her shoes are then removed and she appears to be searched.

As she's restrained, Bonds appears to mule-kick Morris in her socked feet. Two of the three male officers at the counter then take her to the floor by the arm and the neck.

That's when Sgt. Steve Desjourdy joins the three male officers, picking up a plastic riot shield and placing it across Bonds' legs.

Morris, limping noticeably and appearing to be in obvious pain, leans on a garbage can and then a wall before walking out of the frame.

Desjourdy leaves and goes to another desk, where he appears to put on a pair of goggles. He goes down a hallway and returns with a pair of scissors in his hand.

Desjourdy is then seen cutting away Bonds' shirt and bra as she lies prone on the floor.

The riot shield is then moved to cover Bonds' face. Bonds does not appear to be resisting.

Her bare back exposed, Bonds is eventually lifted by the four male officers, her arm across her chest holding what remained of her clothing in an attempt to prevent herself from being exposed.

Lajoie put a publication ban on the next part of the video itself.

The judge had severely criticized the police officers' actions at the station, saying "there is no reasonable explanation . . . to have cut Ms. Bonds' shirt and bra off, and there is no reason, apart from vengeance and malice, to have left Ms. Bonds in the cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes half-naked and having soiled her pants, before she received what is called a blue suit.

"That is an indignity toward a human being and should be denounced."

Bonds had been walking home on a downtown Ottawa street in the early morning hours of Sept. 26 when she was stopped by police.

An officer ran her name through a police computer and found nothing, so they told her to keep walking home. When she turned back to question why they had stopped her in the first place, she was arrested for public intoxication — an arrest Lajoie found unlawful — and taken to police headquarters.

In the earliest available video, which shows Bonds being led from a police cruiser to the cell area, she appears to be stumbling and having difficulty walking.

The province's Special Investigations Unit has since launched an investigation into the officers' conduct. Desjourdy is now subject to an internal investigation and has been banned from dealing with the public.

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