UBCO student sues RCMP after officer uses force in wellness check, video shows

This article contains mentions of a violent police encounter and self-harm.

A UBCO student filed a lawsuit against the RCMP in March 2020 after a wellness check became violent, surveillance footage reveals.

Nursing student Mona Wang alleges that RCMP officer Corporal Lacy Browning “repeatedly assaulted” her in January 2020 after Wang’s boyfriend had called the police requesting a “health check” at her apartment, according to court documents.

A notice of civil claim that Wang’s lawyer filed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia alleges that Cpl. Browning did not introduce herself when entering the residence. Wang’s court documents say Cpl. Browning demanded Wang to stand. When Wang was unable, Cpl. Browning allegedly stepped on her arm, kicked her in the stomach and shouted at her.

Wang alleges that the officer continued to cuss at her and her dog during this part of the encounter, with phrases “stop being dramatic,” “control your fucking dog, don’t make me hurt him” and “stupid, idiot.”

Wang’s lawyer declined to comment for this story.

The RCMP claims that Cpl. Browning announced herself as a police officer. The RCMP’s response to the filing states that Cpl. Browning saw an unresponsive Wang on the washroom floor and proceeded to rub Wang’s sternum to assess her consciousness when Wang opened her eyes and began to yell.

Following this, Wang allegedly began flailing her arms and swinging at the officer.

Court documents state that Cpl. Browning then handcuffed Wang. Wang says she wasn’t given a reason why she was being arrested. The RCMP says Cpl. Browning announced that Wang was being detained under the Mental Health Act after Wang’s actions and concern for her mental health.

Cpl. Browning claims that she observed a wine bottle and a pill bottle in the room and had reason to believe that Wang was suicidal.

The Mental Health Act states that a police officer is permitted to apprehend or take a person to a physician if they determine from personal observation or from information received that the person is “acting in a manner likely to endanger that person's own safety or the safety of others” or “is apparently a person with a mental disorder.”

Surveillance footage released in June 2020 shows that Cpl. Browning proceeded to drag Wang out of the bathroom, out of the apartment and to the elevator. Wang suffered injuries to “her face, upper thigh, abrasion over the right breast, bruising over the sternum, and bruising over forearms,” according to the notice.

After the two entered the building lobby, video shows Cpl. Browning stepping on Wang’s face and pressing her head down with her foot. A few moments later, the officer can be seen grasping Wang’s hair and lifting her head from the ground.

This video contains footage of a violent police encounter.

After transporting Wang to the Kelowna General Hospital, Wang alleges that Cpl. Browning lied to medical staff and said she had been using methamphetamines. Wang’s filing says a hospital toxicology report showed she had no illegal substances in her blood.

In court documents, the RCMP denied that Cpl. Browning misled medical staff.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, RCMP Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said the officer has been placed on administrative duty and that an internal investigation is underway. The RCMP has also asked an outside police force to review the results of its investigation once complete.

“We understand that a series of videos related to the ongoing civil matter were recently disclosed to all parties as per a court order. The RCMP respects the judicial process and we will file our official response as per the civil proceedings,” she said.

This article was updated to include comments from RCMP Staff Sergeant Janelle Shoihet.