No jail time for RCMP officer who dragged, stepped on B.C. student during wellness check

Click to play video: 'Kelowna cop sentenced to community service for wellness check assault'
Kelowna cop sentenced to community service for wellness check assault
A Kelowna RCMP officer was in court Monday to learn how much time she will serve for assaulting a UBC Okanagan student back in January 2020 during a wellness check. Victoria Femia has the details. – Aug 28, 2023

The Kelowna, B.C., cop who committed the highly publicized assault of a UBC Okanagan nursing student in emotional distress will have to complete community service hours and will then walk away without a criminal record.

RCMP Const. Lacy Browning was given a two-year conditional discharge for assaulting Mona Wang in January of 2020. That means she must complete 160 hours of community work as part of her sentence, keep the peace, and is barred from making contact with Wang. Once that’s over, she will not have a criminal record.

Provincial Court Judge Roy Dickey said the conditional sentence and lack of incarceration should not be seen as condoning Const. Browning’s treatment of  Wang.

“Const. Browning’s actions were criminal and highly inappropriate in the arrest of Miss Wang … her actions highlight what should not occur when a police officer is responding to a person in a mental health crisis,” he said.

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“To Const. Browning’s credit, however, she has taken responsibility for this offence by entering a  guilty plea,  expressed insight and acknowledgment that she acted inappropriately, and (acknowledged) the negative consequences.”

It was a muted end to a case that gained national attention when video footage of the young woman getting dragged through a hallway in her school residence spread far and wide.

Dickey said Browning was suffering from cumulative trauma and stress from the job at the time of the assault.

In a report from shortly before she assaulted Wang, Browning indicated she was going through the motions at work, struggling with compassion and empathy.

That said, the incident was out of character according to letters of support, and she is now showing accountability and remorse.

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As an Indigenous woman, Browning said she would like to enter a restorative justice process with Wang, but only if Wang was receptive.  Wang was not present for the sentencing.

While developing remorse, Dickey said Browning has also suffered from the “firestorm” of negative attention set off by the release of the video of the assault.

“This firestorm has resulted in Const.  Browning suffering from debilitating stress, paranoia, anxiety, medical complications, and depression,” Dickey said.

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“She has been prescribed medication to address these issues. The threats were serious enough for her to move to another community.”

Her job has also been limited in the time that’s passed.

Const. Browning is on administrative duties and her status is subject to continual review and assessment, RCMP said Monday in a statement.

The internal RCMP Code of Conduct investigation remains active and ongoing.

Browning had pleaded guilty in November of last year, reversing the not-guilty plea she entered in January 2022.

The case became a rallying cry for changes in the RCMP after surveillance video from January 2020 showed Wang restrained and being dragged, face down, on a carpeted hallway by a Kelowna RCMP officer. The video then showed the officer stepping on the back of the handcuffed woman’s head.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna RCMP officer charged in relation to ‘wellness check’'
Kelowna RCMP officer charged in relation to ‘wellness check’

Browning was later identified as the officer involved and was charged in August 2021.

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Before the criminal charge was laid, however, a civil lawsuit was filed against Browning, Canada’s attorney general and B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general. It was settled in June 2022, though  details of the settlement covered under a confidentiality clause.

In the notice of claim that came ahead of that settlement, however, Wang said she was in mental distress Jan. 20, 2020, when her boyfriend called the RCMP requesting a wellness check.

Click to play video: 'Mona Wang ‘shocked’ that wellness-check investigation review sent back to RCMP'
Mona Wang ‘shocked’ that wellness-check investigation review sent back to RCMP

“Browning proceeded to assault the plaintiff by stepping on the plaintiff’s arm,” the lawsuit alleges. “Browning kicked the plaintiff in the stomach while the plaintiff was lying on the bathroom floor semi-conscious.”

The civil suit also claimed that Browning told Wang to “stop being dramatic” and called her a “stupid idiot.”

Wang claimed Browning handcuffed her and then dragged her out of the suite, down a hallway toward the floor’s elevator while punching her in the face.

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In response, Browning said she used necessary force and claimed that Wang had a box-cutter with her.

In an agreed statement of fact, the court heard that Browning had been told, erroneously, that Wang was coming down from crystal meth.

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