Conduct of Ottawa Police Officers “Appalling”: Judge

Justice Lajoie of the Ontario Court of Justice has found “no reasonable explanation” for an extremely violent strip search of a young woman in Ottawa police custody. The judgment in R v Bonds holds that the treatment of Stacy Bonds, a 27-year-old theatrical make-up artist with no criminal record, was “an indignity towards a human being” that “should be denounced.” Arrested in 2008 on a charge of public intoxication, Ms. Bonds received two extremely violent knee hits in the back, had her hair pulled back and was forced to the floor with a plastic riot shield in the police department’s booking room. She was then strip searched in the presence of at least three male officers, had her shirt and bra cut off and was left in a jail cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes partially clad and having soiled her pants, before receiving what is called a blue suit. The events were captured on police station videotape. The court has stayed the charge against Ms. Bonds given the “unlawful” and “extremely serious breach of [her] rights.” She has indicated to the The Ottawa Citizen that she is now considering a lawsuit against the Ottawa Police Service, which recently launched an internal investigation of its own.

2 Comments on "Conduct of Ottawa Police Officers “Appalling”: Judge"

  1. Janet Money | 17/11/2010 at 10:25 pm |

    This speaks directly to my remarks last week at the CCLA G20 hearings in Toronto in which I suggested that the Toronto Film Studios detention centre conditions were possibly no different from every lockup in the city. I should have said, the province, or the country. I also said that should be looked into. At the risk of becoming a target myself, I have to put forward my view that police powers over people in detention must be examined and it seems, severely curtailed. Strip searches, in particular, should never be routine.

  2. Kathleen | 26/11/2010 at 9:41 am |

    I also made a direct connection between the above events and the G20. I support Janet’s comments that strip searches seem to be a routine police procedure no matter what the circumstances, and to make matters worse, are not conducted according to the law. These should be the strict exception and should only be done when there is a real threat to the police or others. The excuse of safeguarding the detainee’s safety sounds very hollow, as it looks much more like revenge and wanton humiliation than protection. It is especially traumatic for women. This sort of state power should never exist. Furthermore, men have no business in matters involving women (and vice versa).

    I’m convinced that these strip searches are conducted to subdue the detainee, through treatment that must feel like rape to the detainee. How many times did we hear that law enforcement officers at the G20 threatened the women with rape if they did not comply with the strip searches. It seems to me that Stacy Bonds was the victim of exactly that. The female detainees did have good grounds to be scared that this would happen to them also. We now have the evidence to support it.

    I’m not sure how many women feel safe around police anymore after hearing G20 testimonies and this, since we all know that these are the stories we hear about. How many more are there?

    Until police powers are examined and revised, I will not feel safe in this country.

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