RCMP criticized for taking two months to ask for witnesses to disturbing Kelowna wellness check

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RCMP criticized for taking too long to ask for witnesses to disturbing wellness check – Sep 10, 2020

More than two months after surveillance video emerged of a disturbing wellness check in Kelowna, RCMP are now issuing a public plea for witnesses to come forward.

But the UBC Okanagan student who was dragged handcuffed down the hallway by an RCMP officer is worried that it’s too late.

“That should have been done a lot earlier, especially now that a whole summer has passed,” nursing student Mona Wang said, adding that any international students might not be in the country anymore.

Read more: UBC Okanagan student in disturbing wellness check video calls moment dehumanizing, embarrassing

“Living by the university, a lot of people graduate and move on,” she said.

Abbotsford police independently reviewed the RCMP file, sending it back to Kelowna saying it needed further investigation.

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“We were wondering what type of further investigation was required when Abbotsford sent it back to RCMP, versus sending it to the criminal justice branch to see if there’s sufficient evidence for criminal charges against the police officer,” former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed said.

Read more: Mona Wang ‘shocked’ that wellness-check investigation review sent back to RCMP

“And I’ll tell you, this is one of the last things I would expect, where in fact they did not locate the witnesses that are in plain view of that video,” he said.

Officers should have knocked on every door trying to find any possible witnesses, he added.

“This is initial police investigation tactics that you’re taught at the police academy,” Heed said.

After the report was sent back by Abbotsford police, RCMP have since launched the appeal for witnesses in the surveillance video.

Wang said she gave investigators her roommates’ phone numbers in June but that officers didn’t question them until a few days ago.

“So many voices are missing from the report, and it just seems like such a sloppy job that they’ve done,” Wang said.

“It doesn’t feel like they’re doing a very thorough job before sending it over,” Wang said. “I’m just happy that they’re getting them to dig deeper and put in a full report.”

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Back in early July, Southeast District Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli apologized to Wang during a press conference.

“If that was my family member or friend, I would have deep concerns and want answers as well,” he said.

Wang said she accepted the apology at the time but has seen little action since.

“It almost seems intentional to me that they’re kind of whitewashing and trying to hide what has happened,” Wang said.

Click to play video: 'Mona Wang extended interview after police apology' Mona Wang extended interview after police apology
Mona Wang extended interview after police apology – Jul 2, 2020

However, even without the additional witnesses, the video was disturbing, Heed said.

“There is no way in any police training or any police policy could you justify the actions of that officer,” Heed said.

“Dragging her down the hallway, and then we witness further evidence where she lifts her like a rag doll with her hair, puts her back down on the ground and at one point, puts her boot on her face,” Heed said.

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“That’s sufficient evidence, based on my opinion, in my expertise, for at least criminal charges against the officer.”

Read more: ‘I will not be the last,’ B.C. nursing student dragged, stepped on by RCMP tells rally

Heed said he would like to see the case judged in the court system.

He also noted that in addition to a criminal investigation, an internal code of conduct review was underway.

“So if we have no confidence that they’ve gathered all the evidence required on the criminal, you know, it doesn’t give us much confidence under the internal discipline, the public trust area, that the RCMP have that guides their actions will be sufficient enough to address the concerns that were raised,” he said.

RCMP said in an email that Browning remains suspended with pay and that they have no date for when the follow-up investigation will be complete.


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