An Ottawa woman whose violent strip-search at an Ottawa police station was captured on video has launched a $1.2-million lawsuit against the Ottawa Police.
The plaintiff, Stacy Bonds, alleges that a group of vindictive officers manhandled her and tossed her in a cell half-naked, in part, because she is black and female.
"The wrongful arrest, forcible confinement and battery of the plaintiff was designed to intimidate and humiliate her," said a statement of claim, filed Friday by lawyers Sean Dewart and Tim Gleason.
Ms. Bonds, a 27-year-old theatrical makeup artist with no criminal record, was arrested and taken to police headquarters in 2008. She remained topless and in soiled pants for more than three hours before being given a jailhouse jumpsuit.
A charge of assaulting police lodged against was stayed in October, after her trial judge denounced the police misconduct and called the entire incident "a travesty."
"There is no reasonable explanation ... to have cut Ms. Bonds' shirt and bra off, and there is no reason, apart from vengeance and malice, to have left Ms. Bonds in the cell for a period of three hours and 15 minutes half naked and having soiled her pants, before she received what is called a blue suit," the judge said.
"That is an indignity towards a human being and should be denounced."
The lawsuit names the Ottawa Police Service, Chief Vern White, and Constables Melanie Morris, Steven Desjourdy, Cameron Downie, Michael Bednarek and John Flores.
It alleges that Ms. Bonds was stopped without a valid reason on a downtown Ottawa street and taken to the station because she "had the temerity" to question why officers had waylaid her.
"While the plaintiff was being held securely by two large male officers on either side and not resisting the search in any manner, Morris brutally assaulted and battered the plaintiff," it said.
"In particular, Morris administered two shattering blows to the plaintiff's kidney area with her knee with intent to cause excruciating pain and with disregard for the danger of permanently disabling the plaintiff, and grabbed the plaintiff's hair and violently wrenched her head forward."
The statement of claim says that the officers then threw Ms. Bonds to the ground, piled on top of her and held her down with Plexiglas riot armour.
"The plaintiff was frozen in fear," it said. "As she lay motionless on the ground, pinned down by the other assaulting officers, Desjourdy cut open her shirt and bra."
Ms. Bonds was left in her cell for several hours, her bared breasts plainly evident on a video monitor that was visible to male and females officers outside the cell, the lawsuit states.
It said that Ms. Bonds had 'voided herself' in fear during the incident, but officers refused to provide her with the means to clean herself up.
The lawsuit alleges that Chief White and other administrators have failed to train officers properly, and bear responsibility for their savage behaviour. It states that the officers "colluded" to falsify their notebooks in order to evade detection after the incident.
The publication of the videotape of Ms. Bond's strip-search has caused her ongoing trauma and, "to relive the events and to suffer further public humiliation," Mr. Dewart and Mr. Gleason said.
"In addition to her physical injuries, the plaintiff suffered mental and nervous shock, she has been unable to sleep, she is fearful of police and other authorities, and she is unable to full and securely participate in normal activities and continues to suffer emotional trauma."
Ottawa Police are expected to file a statement of defence within a few weeks.