Police have announced that an internal code of conduct and criminal investigation is underway following a lawsuit that alleges Const. Lacy Browning mistreated a university nursing student during a wellness check in January.
Mona Wang states in her civil claim that Browning handcuffed her and dragged her down a hallway, after finding her lying semiconscious on the bathroom floor, next to empty pill bottles.
The wellness check was initiated by Wang’s boyfriend, after he thought she was in mental distress.
According to the lawsuit, Wang was taken to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment after being arrested under the Mental Health Act.
“The plaintiff suffered bruises to the face, broken blood vessels to the left eye, swollen right eye and bruising to the right temple,” the lawsuit states.
Insp. Laura Livingstone, Kelowna RCMP’s acting officer-in-charge, released a statement regarding the incident. She says the Kelowna RCMP are aware and understanding of the concerns raised by the video of the arrest.
“I will have to limit my response accordingly as the matter is the subject of an ongoing civil litigation proceeding,” said Livingstone.
“However, I can confirm that the series of videos from inside a Kelowna residential building were recently disclosed to all parties involved in the civil litigation as per a court order.”
She continued, “The RCMP respects the judicial process and we will continue to respond officially to the allegations made in the civil claim through the courts.”
Livingstone confirms that an internal Code of Conduct and a criminal investigation have been opened into the matter.
“With respect to the internal investigation, the member in the video has been placed on administrative duties and their duty status will be subject to continual assessment,” said Livingstone.
“With the other investigation, the RCMP will also be asking an outside police department to independently review the findings of our criminal investigation once completed.”
Livingstone says those who are directly involved are being held accountable.
UBC Okanagan’s deputy vice-chancellor and principal Deborah Buszard has also issued a statement on the wellness-check-turned-violent arrest.
Buszard says the incident has raised concerns within the university.
“In light of this recent police incident, we reaffirm that UBC condemns violence and injustice of any kind,” said Buszard.
“In instances such as this one, it is the purview of the courts to determine a legal outcome, and we understand an internal police investigation is also underway.”
She continued, “We encourage a thorough review, but as the matter is currently before the court, it would not be appropriate for the university to comment further.”
Buszard says while the incident did not take place on campus, safety within the university community is a priority and she says the university will be looking for ways to improve community awareness of mental health supports.
If you or someone you know has been directly or indirectly affected by this news or any other situation, a variety of support services are available to help:
- Counselling and mental health services are available to all UBC Okanagan students from Health and Wellness counsellors and nurses — they can be reached at 250-807-9270.
- UBCO students also have 24/7 access to Studentcare’s EmpowerMe support services, by phone at 1-844-741-6389 or via EmpowerMe online service.
- The Province of British Columbia has developed a 24/7 free, confidential counselling and community referral service available via app, phone and web. Please use this link for more information: Here2Talk.