Did you read this appalling story in today’s Citizen? It’s about a young woman named Stacy Bonds who was taken into police custody for no good reason, while walking home one night in 2008. She was essentially seized off the streets of Ottawa while doing nothing wrong. While in police custody, she was physically assaulted (violently kneed in the back, hair pulled, and knocked to the ground with a riot shield) while a male police officer cut off her shirt and bra for no apparent reason, in the presence of several other male officers. She was left in a cell, topless, shoeless, and in soiled pants, for hours.
There’s video evidence showing what they did to her, and showing that she was peaceful, cooperative and sober. There doesn’t appear to be another side to this. It’s just police brutality, plain and simple. It’s an absolutely disgraceful abuse of power and a flagrant violation of a young black woman’s human rights.
The officer who cut off her shirt and bra, Steve Desjourdy, has a history. Days before this incident took place, he kicked and tasered another female prisoner in the cell block. He pleaded guilty and was demoted for three months.
Demoted for three months?? Why didn’t they fire the creep?
To Chief Vern White’s credit, he doesn’t turn a blind eye; he launches an investigation. But then what? The investigative process seems to greatly favour the officer over the victim, and even if the officer is found guilty, the punishment is usually just a symbolic slap on the wrist, like a temporary demotion. They’re almost never fired.
Being a police officer comes with a lot of power. If you discover you’ve entrusted that power to the wrong kind of person, you have to take it back – the gun, the badge, the uniform, and especially the right to seize people off the streets, hold them captive, strip them naked and assault them.
Every time I hear another one of these accounts of violent, abusive, misogynist creeps on the Ottawa police force, my skin crawls. I’m so tired of hearing that each one is just a bad apple. If you find a bad apple, you throw it out – you don’t put it aside for a few months and then throw it back in with the others.