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Police brutality in Ottawa

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.

37 comments to Police brutality in Ottawa

  • I hope sues the police department, and that sadist cop Desjourdy is removed from the force.

  • deBeauxOs, I agree with you. I’d like to see all of them who participated – either actively or passively – kicked off the force. If they haven’t the courage to intervene when they see their colleagues committing crimes against people, then they don’t have enough courage to be cops.

    Sassy, I’m really pleased to see that. I hope Stacy Bonds takes him up on it. I would happily make a contribution to that legal fund.

  • This story is so appalling. Accountability is the only way we can make sure that line between right and wrong doesn’t get blurred.

  • Wow.. I usually come down on the side of the police – they do have a tough job and there are a lot of idiots out there that they have to deal with – but it’s really hard to see any justification for what they did in this case. I really hope they get what they deserve – its appalling – sadly, I don’t think they will – The Toronto Star recently did a series on outcomes of cases investigated by the SIU, and while I felt their reporting was a little one sided – it does seem that police get off pretty darn light when they commit offenses.

  • Jocelyna

    I was also in a grips of the ottawa police, when you are a single woman going to a bar you become an easy target , not just the perverts but the brutality and verbal abuse of the ottawa police officers if you only knew my story.

  • Anne

    Minister Bev Oda said earlier this year in Parliament that “Women are Equal”. Then again, some more than others. Is this what equality means? We are back in the 70s and 80s, when Black people could not walk the streets in their home town, even in their own neighbourhoods without being accosted by the police.
    This was not only a “gendered” attack that included the continuing subjugation and violation of women, but it was also a racist attack.
    Lets call it like it is.

  • Abhorrent racist, misogynist bullying. Thank you, Zoom, for calling it out for what it is.

    My experience is that the “boss” . . . the teacher in a classroom, the principal in a school, the commanding officer of a military unit, and thus, by extension, I would apply this to the head of the Ottowa police . . . sets the tone of behavior for the whole unit. If this abuse is so widespread, perhaps there needs to be a new “boss.”

  • AK

    This is SEXUAL ABUSE, PHYSICAL ABUSE AND MENTAL ABUSE.

    ALL THE POLICE OFFICERS WHO STOOD BY AND THE MAIN FREAK WHO DID THIS NEED TO NOT ONLY BE FIRED, CLEARLY, BUT JAILED. THEY NEED TO BE SENTENCED TO JAIL.

    If I were this poor unfortunate woman, I would go all the way and sue them. Sue their racist ass. Hey, arrest me for calling you racist ass. Go ahead…pin me to the floor and cut my bra off and I’ll cut your dick off with my nails.

  • Bob

    Chief Vern White,

    what are you going to do about this??? I’m writing from Toronto. YOur force is a disgrace to Ottawa and to Canada. I spit on you and your title if you don’t fire these mentally ill cops who did this, ALL OF THEM.

  • Alex Blais

    I just seen the clip on National news this eve. I am shaken at this report and believe that the time has come for the public to engage in this needless act upon a human being; plain and simple. As a Casnadian, I no longer want to be served and or protected by any Canadian Police force. They do not deserve to called bears or pigs as this shows that they are worse than them. I would think twice calling the “tips” line, I mean, I would’nt want to feel responsible for having one beat up senseless or even killed in the supposed protection of the Police. These days, to wear the uniform and carry the pistol/tazer has become a legal permit to punch, kick, hit, abuse or kill without much justification. It is time to end this. All of these cops deserve nothing less than to be fired. No pay, No pension plus, to be charged for assault and battery, committing indecency to another person. Further, they need to spend a few months in jail and face the prisoners they beat up. But, knowing my tax-grabbing government, not much may come out of this, for this is our 2 tiered justice system we live in. Excuse my frustration folks but I can’t help but be a slight angry to see my protection behave like this. I can only imagine my children in the future… “Don’t spit out your chewing gum!; the Police are looking!”

  • Alex Blais

    I understand your anger AK and I should add more charge… Attempted gang rape. Total destruction of the poor womans life because this whole story had to be exposed to the world. The Police force(s) ought to pay restitution for destroying this woman’s life in such a shameful and undeserving manner. I would never beat my dog like that. I hope the lawyer reprenting this woman really throws the book at her. ANY brutallity is unlwaful and so especially when I feel it comes from me, Joe Public. Throw the book at them and once locked up, throw the key.

  • Attempted gang rape?? I’ll cut your dick off with my nails?? Where are you people coming from?

  • Trevor

    Not saying an investigation isn’t merited but…Are you all blind! Did you not see her resisting the officers, refusing to face the counter, trying to turn around, the overhead of non-stop yapping, kicking at the officers just prior to being kneed and taken down. She was resisting a search, is it in accordance with policy…that’s for the investigation to determine!! RACISM!? Is there even a bit of evidence that that has anything to do with this? These unfounded statements only serve to create riots and deepen racial divisions! This video has likely allowed someone who, if unfairly arrested, should have complied with the officers directions and then filed a complaint after…like a normal rational law-abiding person and not resisted the officers. Now, because of a bunch of quick to judge bleeding hearts public opinion has set off the balance of justice and due process. You people need to go for a ride along and witness first hand what officers have to contend with daily-they can’t do their job with “pretty pleases”, the detainee can either comply or you get physically made to comply, it’s that simple. Oh, and to those paranoid conspiracy theory cop-haters, is it possibly that most police conduct investigations find the cops not-guilty could actually be because they didn’t breach policy or conduct guidlines and were innocent of charges laid against them by the crimminals!!! Is that possible?
    P.S. I am not nor have ever been a cop but I am a law abiding citizen that has been detaind a couple of times because of reasonable suspition by the cops, I was innocent, complied with their directions and was released unharmed as were my friends, at least the ones that CHOSE to comply…every single time!!

  • Actually I didn’t see her resisting, and since when is “non-stop yapping” against the law? They had no reason to arrest her in the first place, and given that there were five of them and that they were all bigger than her, they didn’t NEED to exercise brute force. They CHOSE to. They also chose to humiliate her and make her feel as vulnerable and powerless as possible – thus the cutting off of her top and bra. They were pigs. (I’ll grant you there’s no outright evidence that this attack was in any way racially motivated, but since she is a woman of colour and racism’s a common characteristic among ignorant bullies, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.)

  • Alex Blais

    As a police person, I would think you have all the tools necessary (especially inside the precinct) without having to gang up on anyone and brutally assault them. Why does it always take 6 cops to restrain anyone? I also am a law-abiding person and I also know that when it’s the D.A. defending a service person, they’ll never leave a soldier. These cops are totally high from carrying the badge. Whether you cooperate with the police or not, you do not need to rip the clothes off their back. I’m sure if I did that to my wife that I’d be arrested for attempted rape. I’m not sure how serious this assault would be if you were the perp. author Zoom. The police force should take more human behavioral (psych) courses than practisng their what they call “defencive” actions. When 6 persons gang up on a woman and tear their clothes off to me, that is attempting rape. What do you call it?

  • Alex, I agree it should never have happened and it was a flagrant abuse of police power. It’s completely unacceptable and heads should roll. But it’s not attempted rape. If they’d been attempting to rape her, they’d have raped her, given that there were so many of them and they were all bigger than her and she was in handcuffs.

    All I’m saying is there’s no point charging them with something that they obviously didn’t do, when they’re clearly guilty of what they obviously did do.

  • I am struck by how much emotional response this post has aroused. It appears that many of us are afraid of being bullied by those in power. Beyond that. . . I’m guessing that many of us HAVE been bullied by people who hold power over us and this stirs up our old feelings of fear, hurt and anger, hence, some venting.

  • PZG

    PERHAPS THE WOMAN IN THE VIDEO SHOULD HAVE COPLIED BUT GIVEN THE FACT THAT SHE WAS JUST OUT WALKING SOMEWHERE AND BEING TAKEN IN BY THE COPS I TOO WOULD HAVE A HARD TIME BITING MY TOUNGE AND COMPLING. MY RIGHTS ARE NOT TO BE MESSED WITH BY ANYONE. THESE HOT HEADED COPS OBVIOUSLY WENT OVER THE TOP BY WHAT THEY DID TO HER. I MUST SAY I HAD A GOOD LAUGH WHENT THE BLOND FEMALE COP HURT HERSELF (KARMA’S A BITCH). PLEASE MR. WHITE, DO SOMETHING WITH THESE ROUGH COPS AND RESTORE SOME FAITH INTO THE POLICE FORCE. I TOO HAVE BEEN BEATEN BY AN OTTAWA OFFICER AFTER CLIMBING OUT OF A CAR CRASH AND SAVED BY AN OTTAWA TAXI DIVER WHO WITNESSED THE ACCIDENT AND I TOO HAVE HAD PROPERTY STOLEN FROM ME BY THE POLICE FORCE “OH, WE SOLD THAT AT THE AUCTION.” I WAS RAISED TO RESPENCT ALL POLICE OFFICERS-I WISH I STILL COULD.

  • Cheryl, I think you’re right. I know quite a few people who learned the hard way that the police aren’t always the good guys. And even people who have always believed that they are, are now questioning that assumption in light of the Stacy Bonds assault.

    PZG, thanks for sharing.

  • Trevor

    Rape! Sexual assault! Not from the video I saw, illegal or improper arrest and search…maybe. Don’t think that many judges have been compelled to release “crimminals” due to procedural error and even public pressure. I’m not saying that’s the case here but to equate release or a court finding of “not guilty” due to lack of admissable evidence or because of procedural error to be the same as that persons being “innocent” is naive. Finding someone “not guilty” due to lack of “admissible evidence” or a mistake in procedure does NOT MEAN INNOCENT..some examples: OJ Simpson, Terrell Yarbrough, Kenneth Dailey, Darwin Rodriguez-Ferreira, Saul Bacerra Jr, Anthony Stockelman, Bechir Jelidi and recently Colton Harris-Moore. All were or came close to being found “not guilty” due to a technicality or lack of evidence but none were innocent. All those citing that the cops “ganged” up on her…that’s how police work to protect themselves and the suspect, that’s why they carry pepper spray, batons, guns, and work in groups so that they can overpower a suspect when necessary, it’s never supposed to be a one-on-one “fair” fight…that’s the whole point of them working as a team!! No one complains when ten cops take down a murder, assault, or robbery suspect. Their procedures are the same with all suspects because they never know who their dealing with. No there is no law against “Yapping” but it is telling of someone’s character when they fail to show respect for authority. I would bet that most convicted crimminals at the time of arrest objected to the reasons and method of arrest. As for the “strip search”, I’m not at all certain it was appropriate or within policy but a female officer was there during these actions…and I’m quite certain rape or sexual assault was never her intention. Those that fail to see any resistance on Ms Bonds part is both blind and illiterate, the story itself identifies that she kicked a officers.

  • Alex Blais

    Unless you want to pay for my wellfare, even the blind and illiterate have the right to vote, live and obtain the same services as anyone else. People who think that “Yapping” is telling of someone’s character should not be dealing with the public. I do want as many cops on a murderer as possible but you should not be permitted to beat him up after he’s cuffed. (That is where brutallity begins) then, that becomes terror. We still do not have the death penalty in Canada.

  • On behalf of the Ottawa Police Service, I would like to deliver this message. We are taking this matter very seriously and we acknowledge the concerns received from the public.

    The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) invoked their mandate on November 19, 2010 and we are cooperating fully with their office. We ask for your understanding and patience considering that Ottawa Police cannot comment on SIU matters therefore, we will not be making further comments on this matter nor the release of a video by the court, until such time as the SIU investigation is completed.

    If you wish to know more about SIU and their role in this investigation, please visit their website at http://www.siu.on.ca/home.html.

    Thank you,

    S/Sgt. Michel Marin
    Ottawa Police Service
    Professional Standards Section
    613-236-1222 ext 5830

  • cayer

    The majority of police in ottawa believe that there above the law, they hide behind there shield. they arrest people an lie about why they arrested that person, it happens alot. They make up there own rules, they believe they are the judge an Prosecutor. I too was assaulted by the ottawa police in my own home, as my son an wife watched but i didnt have a camera to prove that it happened to me. I was arrested an charge with resisting arrest. so when i read something like what happened to Stacy bonds, it bring back bad memories, an i hope to god she sues. The police officers who are involve deserve to be punished, or at lease fired.

  • Alex Blais

    Mr. Cayer is another example and leaving behind a traumatic event for his son is destructive. This child is probably scarred over that incident. He will never forget that day. There has to be better ways to resolve things like that in order not to affect other people, especially children. Trauma leads to drugs, alcohol and other abuse. It becomes a chain reaction for which I think has placed us where our society is at present. (More mental illness, uncaring, rude, disrespectful etc…) This is why I am so concerned about this issue. Not because it has happened in Ottawa necessarily but is rampant throughout the nation. I recall the recent G-20 where our police force took off their badges and I.D.’s to eliminate proof of their brutality. I would’nt be a bit surprised that the Govt. unofficially advised the authorities that this would be a strategy to get out of the scandal. Our system is to me as corrupt as the persons we elect. I can’t say that I blame the police on this one and very many are truly professional. The bad however, make all the rest be bad. I wish a peaceful end to all of this unfairness, especially to the officers who honestly do their work well. But I can really see the reasons why the society in general, including myself are so insisting that this terror ends. I really am very nervous when I meet any Police officer due to my illness so for me, it would be a bonus to have them understand my mental illness. I think they should be there for me also and why not take some courses about illnesses due to PTSD and learning about the sensitivity of children while operating in a domestic dispute. I know that some police would reject such ideas and those are the one’s who need to find themselves another job. Police should be everything to the best of their abilities. My gosh… you don’t leave anyone undignified with pooh in their pants. That’s immoral. Thank you S/SGT. Marin for your concern over our opinions and your respectful reply.

    May the Ontario Attorney General and the Liberals find some solutions to this, my biggest beef vs. the Provincial Liberals either before the next election or, public revolt (just kidding). You lost my vote Dalton… enough is ENOUGH! (That gooes for 99.9% of everyone I know as well)
    Thanks again knitnut.net for this unforgettable experience. I find it very educational and interesting indeed. You have touched a nerve here with many of us, especially me. PEACE be with you!

  • Trevor

    I have a hard time believeing that the “majority” of cops in any Canadian city are abusive-a few, some, I’d buy that. Is there a “Tactical” reason riot police would remove names and badges, don’t know. Was it just a few bad cops? Implying the entire force is corrupt sounds pretty far fetched in a democracy? Just because you’ve experienced bad cops (in your opinion) is no reason to paint all cops or situations with the same brush. The one fact, corrupt or not, if cops decide to arrest you they will. Being yappy or resisting will not result in anything positive. If your wife, son, daughter was a cop dealing with a difficult and possibly combative suspect I wonder if you’d feel the same way. All I’m saying is, don’t be so quick to judge either way. There was provocation-did the police react appropriately…I don’t know I’m not a cop. Was the suspect COMPLETELY innocent, were the cops COMPLETELY professional…I don’t know. All I know is that the case against her was thrown out…again that isn’t the same as being innocent it’s a lack of “admissable” proof or proper procedure. Do I think it should be investigated…sure but lets wait or the results before we all start jumping on the bandwagon!

  • Alex, I’ve been reading some stuff recently about mental illness and stigma. There’s a new initiative to educate front line health care workers about mental illness so that they’ll be more informed and helpful and less stigmatizing to people with mental illnesses. I was pretty surprised to learn that emergency departments are one of the worst places for stigma. I can only imagine how bad police stations are. I was also reading that in Nova Scotia there’s an initiative to educate police officers about mental illness so that they’ll be less confrontational when dealing with people. Apparently it’s very helpful. (The article was in Canadian Nurse magazine, but I forget which issue.) Also, I talked to a woman a couple of years ago, in my dog park, whose job it was to educate border guards about mental illness. She said she used lots of tools like headsets playing voices, to give the border guards an idea of how different illnesses might feel and how they might impede communication. Anyway. Just to say people are working on it, and maybe someday mental illness won’t be as likely to lead to unpleasant encounters with people in positions of authority.

    Trevor, I don’t believe the majority of cops are bad. I’ve met and dealt with some very good cops. All I’m saying is that they have to get rid of the bad ones because they’re doing a lot of harm to people and to the force’s reputation. It’s in everybody’s best interest to get them out of there. (And as for the G8/G20 debacle – that was nightmarish. I never thought I’d see such a disgusting display of police abusing their power en masse and in public and officially condoned – not in Canada.)

  • niki

    Hey sgt your effing staff need gender training, and personally should get what’s it called.. Dishonerable discharge?

  • Good morning,

    It’s been a difficult few weeks for our members and Ottawa residents.

    We are cooperating with the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to resolve this matter and we ask for your understanding and patience considering that Ottawa Police cannot comment on SIU matters therefore, we will not be making further comments on this matter nor the release of videos by the court, until such time as the SIU investigation is completed.

    We acknowledge the concerns and criticisms from the media and the public however, we ask that you keep in mind that our officers respond to thousands of calls for assistance every day. We maintain our confidence in the abilities and professionalism of the many men and women who serve this community in a professional manner.

    Michel Marin
    S/Sgt Professional Standards Section
    613-236-1222 ext 5830

  • @Trevor

    but it is telling of someone’s character when they fail to show respect for authority

    And equally telling when they blindly submit to it.

  • Trevor

    Blindly…never blindly. I totally see the need for an investigation as I’ve said. One thing has become clear, I guess you can’t teach old Dawgs new tricks.

  • [...] is pretty awful, but he had no way of knowing in advance that his wedding date would conflict with the breaking loose of all hell for the Ottawa [...]

  • AB

    It has already taken too long to manage this issue. (If this was a major corporation, they’d be loosing money hand over fist). At this point in time, I really think that the public are NOT important enough to merrit some kind of tmeporary solution at least while the investigation goes through… The Chief is gone until fire cools down! (Good grief man!)

    I feel this is about to go through the typical wheels of red tape and beaurocracy that I call b.s. and at that point, the matter will just become another one-case of police brutality leaving the public once more, to defend this one file at a time.

  • Tim Dooling

    Did you know there was another beating Wednesday of a diabetic who was having a bad reactionto meds, by an Ottawa Cop who has a history of being trouble?

  • Tim, I hadn’t heard about that. Tell me more.

  • Truthspeaks

    Many police officers are corrupt bastards and shouldn’t be allowed to operate. They are just as bad as the ones they arrest. The french ones seem to be making the headlines and assaulting people at will, in Quebec I don’t see any anglophone police officers doing this to them. French people come over to Ontario to sexually assault people and also the police only respect their own. They are biggots and sexual predetors and making a mockery out of Ottawa, the police and our government. Go to France and pull this shit, I dare you.

  • Speaking of bigotry…hello Truthspeaks.