Victoria police are on the defence after the release of a video showing a drunken fifteen-year-old being tied up by officers and left in a cell for hours.

A teenage girl and her parents are suing the city of Victoria and four police officers for alleged assault and unlawful confinement of their daughter while in police custody in 2005.

Surveillance tape shows officers pushing then-fifteen-year-old Willow Kinloch against the wall of a jail cell, forcing her to the ground and handcuffing her. The officers then tie her feet and leave her tethered to the cell door.

Interim police chief Bill Naughton told The Canadian Press his department has launched an internal investigation but the video is only part of the story. He said the suggestion of torture is inflammatory and Kinloch was combative.

Kinloch's lawyer Richard Neary told CTV British Columbia the lawsuit is based on the tape.

"The bulk of the facts making up the lawsuit are captured on the videotape," he said.

The Kinloch family is seeking $90,000 in damages.

Police say Kinloch, now 18 years old, was intoxicated and placed in a cell to sober up. They say they had to use force because the teenager was combative and uncooperative.

Police were first called to attend to Kinloch after a neighbour called in, saying she was concerned for the girl's safety.

"She was brought to our attention by a bystander who phoned and was frantic because she was concerned for this girl's safety," Victoria police spokesman Sgt. Grant Hamilton told CTV British Columbia. "She disclosed to that caller that she had been drinking and taking ecstasy."

Hamilton said police attended the scene after medical staff called for assistance.

Later, Hamilton says, police were unable to contact any members of her family. Not legally allowed to release her onto the street, police say they had no choice but to bring her back to the cell.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart and files from The Canadian Press