iN VIDEO: RCMP investigating Kelowna officer caught on video dragging nursing student | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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

The Kelowna RCMP detachment is pictured in this undated file photo.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO

A video of a UBCO nursing student being dragged from her apartment by a Mountie who had been called for a wellness check has prompted an external investigation.

"We have reviewed the materials and the allegations as it relates to the police officer's actions," RCMP spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said.

"We can confirm that an internal Code of Conduct and criminal (statutory) investigation is underway. The RCMP will also be asking an outside police department to independently review the findings of our criminal investigation once completed. The member in the video is on administrative duties and their duty status is subject to continual assessment."

Shoihet also said in an email sent Monday night "the RCMP respects the judicial process and we will file our official response as per the civil proceedings."

The video has been circulating widely and gaining condemnation in the court of popular opinion.

In it, a woman identified as Mona Wang can be seen with hands cuffed behind her back, being dragged, on her stomach, down a hallway of her Academy Way apartment building by an RCMP officer identified as Const. Lacy Browning.

Once in the lobby, the officer can be seen at one point stepping on Wang's head then later lifting it. They appear to have a conversation and eventually, Wang is lifted up and walks with Const. Browning, from the building.  

While the video was only released this week, the matter has been making its way through the courts since March 26 when Wang filed a civil lawsuit addressing the Jan. 20 incident. The RCMP responded earlier this month. 

Wang's lawsuit indicates she was in distress and was abused in her moment of need by the very people who are supposed to protect her, while the RCMP says the officer at the centre of the controversy was doing her job as expected, given Wang's erratic behaviour which included what appears to be a suicide attempt and "asking to be killed" by the officer.

In a notice of civil claim filed in March by Penticton lawyer Michael Patterson, Wang said Const. Browning attended the call at the apartment at the behest of her boyfriend who was concerned with her well being. When the officer arrived, she found Wang laying on the bathroom floor in a state of semi-consciousness.

"She was not posing a threat to the officer and did not act in a way to cause (Const. Browning) fear for her safety," reads the lawsuit.

Browning demanded that Wang stand, but she couldn't on her own, the lawsuit reads, and didn't respond to commands being made.

"Browning repeatedly assaulted the plaintiff while shouting, 'Stop being dramatic,' 'Control your fucking dog,' 'don't make me hurt him,' and other phrases such as 'stupid, idiot,'" reads the suit.

Const. Browning is alleged to have handcuffed Lang, dragged her on her stomach from the bathroom, through the apartment and carpeted hallway. This is clearly shown in the video.

In the process, Wang said she suffered an injury to her face, upper thigh, abrasion over her right breast and bruising over her sternum and forearms.

The lawsuit alleges Const. Browning continued dragging Wang to the elevator while punching her in the face. From that point forward she suffered bruises to the face, broken blood vessels to the left eye, swollen right eye and bruising to the right temple.

The lawsuit also claims that Wang was never told why she was being detained and she was taken to Kelowna General Hospital and that Const. Browning told the medical professionals at KGH that Wang was on methamphetamine.

"She has never used methamphetamine or any illicit drugs," the lawsuit said. "The toxicology report from KGH shows that there was no illegal drugs in her body or blood."

Patterson said that as a result of Browning's reckless and unlawful actions, Wang has suffered emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment, psychological and emotional trauma. Browning's actions, Patterson wrote,  show a reckless, malicious and unlawful disregard of the rights and safety of Wang.

In the most recent document filed, the response to the civil claim by The Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Cpl. Lacy Browning said they got the call that Wang was suicidal and had become unresponsive to text messages. She was described as having a history of prior suicide attempts by ingesting medication.

In the response to the lawsuit, Const. Browning said she was initially unable to get into the building, but when she did gain access she entered Wang's suite after the door was unlocked. Once in, she found her in the bathroom.

"Wang was lying on the floor on her right hand side," the lawsuit response states.

"She was motionless and her left arm was not visible as it was tucked behind her."

Wang, according to Const. Browning, appeared to be breathing, her eyes were closed though she was observed to flutter her eyes briefly.

Const. Browning also said Wang had a boxcutter knife in her right hand with the blade extended. She had lacerations to her chest and upper arm, which were bleeding.

There were empty acetaminophen and melatonin bottles on the floor, as well as loose pills, and a nearly empty bottle of red wine.

The lawsuit said Const. Browning, then formed the opinion that Wang had ingested a significant quantity of alcohol, acetaminophen and melatonin and had used the box cutter knife to cut herself.

Const. Browning said she asked Wang repeatedly to wake up, but she did not, so she performed a sternum rub on Wang "to ascertain her true level of consciousness."

"The plaintiff immediately responded by opening her eyes and yelling," reads the civil suit response.

Wang, Const. Browning said in the response, was then asked to sit up immediately and show her left hand, which remained behind her back.

"The plaintiff did not do so and began to curse and yell at (Browning) asking to be killed. She continued to lie on the ground with her hand obscured behind her back," according to the civil claim response.

Based on the behaviour, described in the court document as "bizarre and erratic," and that she allegedly was "asking to be killed," Const. Browning formed an opinion that Wang was acting in a manner that was likely to endanger her safety.

Const. Browning said she told Wang she would be apprehended under the Mental Health Act.

"(Const. Browning) then grabbed the plaintiff's left arm and pulled her onto her stomach to check for an additional weapon, though none was present," reads the response.

"(She) then ordered the plaintiff to stop resisting and put both hands behind her back. The plaintiff refused and continued to swear at (Const. Browning) asking to be killed."

Const. Browning said in the response she attempted to physically restrain Wang to arrest her but Wang resisted by "flailing her arms and swinging them" ... "while continuing to curse violently."

The police officer claimed she struck Wang several times with an open palm, "which subdued the plaintiff sufficiently" to be handcuffed. 

She then moved Wang into the living room and told her she was being apprehended under the Mental Health Act and would be taken to the hospital.

Const. Browning said she asked the plaintiff to stand up so they could leave the suite. Wang, it said in the suit, refused and continued to curse at Browning and asked to be killed, so Browning dragged her to the lobby.

They then walked to Const. Browning's police vehicle and she transported Wang to KGH, where she collapsed on the floor.

RCMP denies Const. Browning misled medical professionals, and that the plaintiff suffered losses or damages and that Const. Browning's actions were "in accordance with the common law, which includes the preservation of the peace, the prevention of crime the presentation and investigation offences against the law."

—Correction: Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet was titled Cpl. Janelle Shoihet in an earlier version of this story.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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