Kelowna RCMP officer who abandoned wellness check committed no crime: IIO | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna RCMP officer who abandoned wellness check committed no crime: IIO

A Kelowna RCMP officer “fail(ed) to properly comply with his sworn duty to protect life” when he abandoned a wellness check on a man found dead hours later, according to an independent investigation.

Had the man not died of natural causes sometime the night before, the unnamed officer might today be facing charges of criminal negligence, said a report from Ronald J. MacDonald, chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

The report says on Jan. 10, 2024, police got a call that a sick man wasn’t answering his phone. He had no friends or family in Kelowna or anyone else to check on him, so they called the RCMP. Wellness checks are not uncommon for police.

The officer arrived at 10:40 a.m., couldn’t find the man’s name on the buzzer to get into his building, and left after two minutes. He told the caller — and complainant in the investigation — to find someone else to check on him.

READ MORE: iN VIDEO: RCMP investigating Kelowna officer caught on video dragging nursing student

Just over an hour later, he was called back to the location to assist EMS with the man’s sudden death.

“(The officer) had information that (the man) was seriously ill and was no long answering the phone,” MacDonald said. “(The officer) almost immediately abandoned his investigation after being stopped by the building’s front door. There were other options he could have pursued but he failed to take any.”

He could have roused other tenants, contacted the superintendent, even forced entry was appropriate, MacDonald said.

When he returned to the scene to assist with the body, the officer didn’t tell anyone he was there an hour earlier. The complaint was lodged Jan. 24 but the RCMP didn’t inform MacDonald’s office about police involvement in a death — as it is required to do — until Feb. 2.

While the officer narrowly escaped criminal charges, MacDonald noted his conduct could still be reviewed.

“(The officer)’s inactions may well constitute a breach of RCMP policy and practice, which is a matter for their Professional Standards branch to address.”

This isn’t the first time Kelowna RCMP has had issues with routine wellness checks.

In June 2020, Const. Lacy Browning was caught on surveillance footage dragging a UBC Okanagan student out of her dorm, on her stomach, down a hallway. The RCMP settled out of court with the student a year later and Browning pleaded guilty to assault and was given a conditional discharge with probation.

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