Sgt. Steven Desjourdy said he felt he was unprepared for the role of supervisor at the Ottawa police cellblock in 2008 when he oversaw a controversial strip search.

The police officer at the centre of a highly controversial cellblock incident in 2008 took the stand in his own defence Tuesday at a police disciplinary hearing.

Desjourdy said he had just five shifts of training before being put on a supervisor's shift, during which he was responsible for the cellblock and its staff, including two special constables.


Sgt. Steven Desjourdy was acquitted of a criminal charge of sexual assault in April 2013.

On Sept. 6, 2008, a woman — who cannot be named because of a publication ban — was brought to the cellblock on Elgin Street on a charge of public intoxication.

As the supervising officer, Desjourdy took the lead during a strip search and cut off the woman's shirt and bra and left her topless in a cell in soiled pants.

Desjourdy told the hearing the woman was left undressed because the cellblock unit had run out of what are called "suicide suits", special suits for prisoners who it's thought might harm themselves.

But the prosecutor said that statement contradicted testimony given Monday by Staff Sgt. Kevin Maloney, the current supervisor of the cellblock, who said the fact the woman was eventually given a suit showed they were available.

Desjourdy had not taken stand at criminal trial

The strip search was captured on surveillance video, which was released to the public by a judge, and the intoxication charge against the woman was later stayed.

The province's Special Investigations Unit then laid a charge of sexual assault against Desjourdy, and he was later acquitted.

Desjourdy did not take the stand at his criminal trial.

For the internal hearing, Desjourdy continues to be represented by Ottawa defence lawyer Michael Edelson, who represented Desjourdy for the criminal matter.

The hearing, which is expected to last until Friday, will determine if Desjourdy's conduct was discreditable under the Police Services Act. If found guilty, he could face a range of penalties, up to and including dismissal.