Police taped cutting off prisoner's bra

Gary Dimmock, Postmedia News Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010

OTTAWA - A judge has condemned a handful of Ottawa police officers for a strip search in which a young woman had her shirt and bra cut off, and was left half-naked in a jail cell for three hours.

Moments before Stacy Bonds -- a 27-year-old with no criminal record -- was stripped of her clothes, she was also the victim of "two extremely violent knee hits in the back ... and has her hair pulled back and her face shoved forward," Justice Richard Lajoie said in an Oct. 27 oral ruling made after he reviewed the police station videotape that captured the events of Sept. 26, 2008.

The judge said "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."

Sgt. Steve Desjourdy cut off the woman's shirt and bra with scissors after she was forced to the floor with a plastic riot shield in the police department's booking room.

When Ms. Bonds was brought into the room, Judge Lajoie noted that she had "no hint of violence and no hint of being aggressive," describing her as "co-operative."

The judge said he was "appalled" that the strip search took place in the presence of at least three male police officers.

The incident began when Ms. Bonds was stopped by police in downtown Ottawa. After running her name and coming up with nothing, they told the young, black makeup artist to keep walking on home. But after a few steps, she turned back and asked why Ottawa Police bothered to stop her in the first place.

That's when things took a rapid turn. They arrested her for public intoxication -- which Judge Lajoie deemed unlawful because she was not drunk -- and cuffed her. Once Ms. Bonds was taken to Ottawa Police headquarters, the judge noted that she was anything but "violent or aggressive."

The Judge stayed the charge against Ms. Bonds, saying he didn't want to be part of the "travesty."

Ottawa Police Chief Vern White said Tuesday that his force has launched an internal investigation into the case.