Stacy Bonds was arrested for no apparent reason, then taken to jail—where officers roughed her up, searched her, cut off her bra and shirt, and left her to languish in a cell half-naked for hours. Luckily, there's video.
"Luckily," because it possibly saved Bonds from going to jail even longer than she did. But whether the video will help her seek justice against the officers seems uncertain-to-unlikely. Some commentators expect little will be done.
A slight, brown-skinned, 27-year-old makeup artist from Ottawa, Canada with no criminal record (natch), Bonds was arrested for public intoxication and taken to an Ottawa jail. A group of officers—four male, one female—subjected her to various forms of humiliation, then charged Bonds with assaulting them. The Ottawa Citizen, which procured a copy of video showing what went on inside the jail between the officers and Bonds, points out that Bonds appears to have "mule-kicked" one of the officers—after he stuck his hand down her pants. But then she stops resisting, which nevertheless leads to this particularly horrifying part:
Her bare back visible, Bonds is eventually lifted by the four male officers, her arm across her chest holding what remained of her tattered clothing in an attempt to prevent herself from being completely exposed.
Another camera angle, which is covered by the publication ban, shows Bonds being led down a hallway to a holding cell with nothing but her arm and the small piece of fabric covering her chest. The side of her breast is briefly exposed at one point.
Morris, the female officer, can be seen tearing away what's left of Bonds' shirt and bra before putting her in a cell with the help of the male officers.
Bonds, who had soiled herself, is then left half-naked and in dirty pants for at least three hours and 15 minutes before eventually being provided a pair of coveralls—an outcome [Judge Richard] Lajoie attributed to the vengeance and malice of the officers.
Bonds' arrest happened in 2008, but her story's now making headlines across Canada because her charge of assaulting a police officer just recently came up for trial. Judge Lajoie, who presided over the case, threw out the charge, calling Bonds' treatment in jail an "indignity." (The same judge also threw out her intoxication charge; the cops claimed Bonds had an open bottle when they arrested her, but no bottle was ever confiscated.)
The head of Ontario province says he wants to get to the bottom of what happened, and he's a powerful guy—but more cynical (realistic?) people don't foresee much happening to the officers because of politics. "The Crown saw the same videotape that everyone else has now seen and determined that it was Bonds who should be charged, not the police officers," says Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley. Prosecutors haven't done anything for Bonds in the two years since her arrest and jailing was videotaped—why would they do something for her now?
Bonds' case has been handed over to the province's special investigations unit, but that unit's typically involved in situations that result in "serious injury or death." Bonds told the Toronto Sun that she hasn't "been the same in these last couple of years" since the incident—but if the unit requires evidence of something more than psychological trauma to take action, then sending the case to them seems more like a gesture than a viable plan for resolution. Another issue: the officer who cut off Bonds' shirt had Tasered a woman prisoner just days before the Bonds incident, and only got a 90-day suspension for unlawful force.
For her part, Bonds says her treatment in jail wasn't because of racism so much as sexism. Maybe, though it's a bit hard for me to wrap my head around that given that the most exposing act—pulling the scraps of shirt away from Bonds, leaving her topless—was perpetrated by a woman. Maybe being the only female officer on the scene created some sort of pressure for that officer to try to one-up her male colleagues? Hard to say without more info, but it's a pretty sickening situation all the same.
Exclusive: Citizen obtains video of Stacy Bonds jailhouse abuse [Ottawa Citizen]
In this system, it seems everyone's blind to justice [Ottawa Citizen]
Officer's unlawful actions revealed in detail [Ottawa Citizen]
Strip searched woman alleges sexism [Toronto Sun]