Closing arguments began Tuesday in the sexual assault trial of an Ottawa police sergeant related to a cellblock incident in 2008.

Sgt. Steven Desjourdy has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault after a cellblock incident in 2008, during which a woman's bra and shirt were cut off.

On police surveillance video, Desjourdy can be seen cutting off the bra and shirt of the woman, who was arrested for public intoxication.

Prosecutor Chris Webb said Tuesday there was no legitimate reason for a strip search, which he said was carried out in an unlawful and degrading manner in front of male officers.

Webb drew on legal precedent, specifically the Golden case, to argue that the kind of searches normally performed on people entering a prison can't be justified when they're intoxicated and only being held for a short while.

Defence lawyer Michael Edelson began his closing arguments around 3:30 p.m., saying the woman may have had her charter rights breached but Desjourdy didn't commit a criminal offence.

The woman can't be identified because of a publication ban.

Woman left topless for 3 hours, court heard

In the video, Desjourdy could be seen taking over for Const. Melanie Morris and cutting the woman's shirt and bra. It is alleged the victim in this case was left topless in her cell for three hours with soiled pants before she was given coveralls.

Earlier during the trial, the court heard prisoners should be given clothes deemed safe to wear in the cells.

The court also heard Desjourdy cut off the clothes because he thought the woman might harm herself. Another officer had testified it didn't make sense to cut off her shirt and bra but leave her pants on if Desjourdy thought she was a suicide risk.

Webb said an Ottawa police investigation which found Desjourdy had acted to stop the woman from harming herself was "improbable and incredible."

He added that it gave no evidence to support that conclusion, aside from police officers saying he had acted properly.

Questions if accused retaliated for actions against an officer

During the strip search the woman kicked a female special constable and was taken to the ground by two male officers.

In her statement to the court, the woman said she was violently thrown to the ground but Const. Cameron Downie testified in January he saw her being taken to the ground using standard practice.

"(Desjourdy) used his power to teach her a lesson and humiliate her" after she kicked the constable, Webb said.

"His intent wasn't for a lawful purpose ... he was acting in retaliation."

Edelson said each officer that was there testified Desjourdy didn't do or say anything that they considered retaliation against the prisoner.

The case was last in court on Jan. 4 when the Crown and the defence wrapped their cases.