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B.C. Mountie investigated after alleged assault during health check

KELOWNA, B.C. — The RCMP say two investigations are underway into the actions of one of its officers after a video was released in a court case that alleges a woman was injured during a health check in Kelowna, B.C.

Insp. Laura Livingstone, the acting officer in charge of the Kelowna detachment, says an internal code of conduct and a criminal investigation are underway.

Livingstone says the unnamed officer in the video has been placed on administrative duties.

She says an outside police department will also be asked to review the findings of the RCMP's criminal investigation when it concludes.

Mona Wang, a nursing student at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus, alleges in a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court that she was injured during a health check conducted by Cpl. Lacey Browning on Jan. 20.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court and statements of defence filed by Browning, the Attorney General of Canada, and British Columbia's minister of public safety and solicitor general deny any wrongdoing.

All three are named as defendants in the case.

In her statement, Livingstone says the investigations are a priority for the RCMP.

"Those directly involved are being held accountable," she says.

The RCMP has not identified the officer shown in the surveillance video taken from inside an apartment building, which was disclosed by court order as part of the civil lawsuit. 

The video shows a female RCMP officer dragging a woman face-first down a carpeted hallway and stepping on her head while waiting in a lobby.

In the lawsuit, Wang's statement of claim alleges Browning's conduct was "abusive and repetitive in the extreme" after the officer found her lying in a state of semi-consciousness on the floor of her apartment.

It says her boyfriend called the RCMP to request a health check.

Wang's claim asserts Browning was acting as a Crown employee and owed Wang a duty of care to ensure she received medical assistance, and that Browning's conduct would not harm Wang.

Wang says she suffered bruising to her face and a swollen right eye as a result of the alleged assault. She says Browning did not attempt to assess whether she needed medical assistance.

The statement of defence says the officer found Wang lying on the floor with a box cutter knife in her hand and empty bottles of acetaminophen, melatonin and wine nearby.

It alleges the student began yelling and swinging her arms at Browning, who proceeded to strike Wang with an open palm in order to subdue and arrest her under the Mental Health Act.

The defendants assert Browning used no more force than was reasonable and necessary.

Wang claims Browning shouted at her to "stop being dramatic," failed to inform her why she was being detained and misled medical professionals at the Kelowna General Hospital.

The student says Browning allegedly told hospital staff that Wang was high on methamphetamine, though a toxicology report showed she had no illegal drugs or alcohol in her system at the time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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