Ottawa police strip search video released

A judge has released a portion of surveillance video showing how Ottawa police officers dealt with a woman who was detained and strip searched in 2008.
A judge has released a portion of surveillance video showing the controversial strip search of a woman by Ottawa police officers in September 2008.

The video shows Stacy Bonds, 27, being forced to the ground and pinned by four police officers before having her bra cut off. Justice Richard Lajoie, of the Ontario Court of Justice, released the video to the Ottawa Citizen after the newspaper filed an application.

Bonds was strip searched after being arrested on Rideau Street for public intoxication — a charge stayed by Lajoie in a verbal ruling issued on Oct. 27.

The video shows four police officers leading Bonds into a cell area at the Elgin Street police headquarters.

When Bonds doesn't immediately turn to face the table-area, a female officer knees her twice in the upper leg, then grabs the woman's hair and forces her into place.

Bonds is held by at least one of her wrists by a male officer as the female officer removes her boots. The video then shows an officer reaching into the pocket of Bonds's pants and pulling out a handful of change, which is thrown onto a table.

At one point, Bonds kicks behind her, catching the female officer in the leg. The officer limps out of the frame, and another male officer can be seen entering the room.

Four male police officers force Bonds to the ground and place a riot shield over her legs.

A male officer leaves the room and returns with a box. He then cuts the back of Bonds's shirt and bra, leaving her back exposed. The female officer stands over Bonds, but does not appear to assist in the search.

The close to seven-minute video posted by the Ottawa Citizen ends with Bonds being lifted to her feet with her cut shirt still around her arms and covering the front part of her body.

In his Oct. 27 ruling, Lajoie said the officers left Bonds alone in a jail cell "half naked and having soiled her pants" after the search.

"That is why videos have become so important," Lajoie said.

"They provide us with these extra details that put meat to simple words that are spoken by witnesses."

Ongoing investigation

Ottawa police chief Vern White said Ottawa residents may be "shocked" by the video of Stacy Bonds in custody, and said the police force is conducting its own internal investigation. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press))
"I understand that Ottawa residents will be shocked by the video," said Ottawa police Chief Vern White in a media statement released Thursday.

White said he could not comment further due to an ongoing probe by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit.

White said the police force is "co-operating fully" with the SIU and has launched its own internal investigation.

The SIU is investigating whether Bonds was sexually assaulted while in custody.

"The key points are Justice Lajoie's comments regarding the strip search and the involvement of three male officers and the cutting off of the complainant's shirt and bra," said SIU spokeswoman Jasbir Brar. The SIU investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault.