A Kelowna RCMP officer who pleaded guilty to assault back in November 2022 was in Supreme Court, Wednesday, for her first day of sentencing.
During the hearing the court heard agreed upon statement of facts on June 14 explaining the series of events that left a UBCO nursing student covered in bruises and the RCMP officer charged with assault.
In January 2020, the boyfriend of Mona Wang called 911 with concerns that she was in distress and may attempt suicide. Kelowna RCMP officer Lacy Browning was dispatched to Wang’s off-campus student residence.
Upon arrival, the Mountie found Wang laying in the bathroom of her apartment surrounded by pill bottles, an empty bottle of wine and a box cutter, that Wang had used to harm herself. Browning alleges that Wang was holding the box cutter and that she had to bend down and remove the potential weapon from Wang’s hand, while Wang submits that the blade was on the floor.
Browning told the operator to tell the backup police that were en-route to the scene to slow down and redirect as the situation was not urgent.
Next, an altercation unfolded where Browning gave Wang instructions to stand up, but Wang did not comply. Wang was apprehended under the mental health act and placed in handcuffs. During the arrest, Browning struck Wang in the face three times.
It is agreed that Wang resisted Browning’s demands, but was not physically aggressive.
The next part of the incident was captured on video from security camera footage.
Browning dragged Wang from her apartment to the elevator. Wang was wearing only a bra and pants. While being dragged, Wang was laying face down, limp and not moving.
Then, the court was shown another video of Browning dragging Wang from the elevator into the lobby of the building. In the video, the Mountie uses her foot to push Wang’s head down after she raises it. Browning is also seen lifting Wang’s head by grabbing her hair.
Wang was transferred to a police car with help from another officer. Wang was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital, where she was treated for bruising on her face, abdomen, sternum and arms, a hematoma on her face, abrasions on her body and face, an injury to her eye and superficial wounds from self harm, in addition to receiving mental health supports.
Browning pleaded guilty to three instances of assault against Wang on what was to be the first day of a lengthy assault trial.
In a statement read to the court, Browning said that at the time of the incident she was “struggling with compassion fatigue.”
The officer said that after 12 years on the force she should have taken time off as she was just “going through the motions,” and experiencing a “lack of compassion” for the calls she was dealing with.
Browning was placed on administrative leave in 2020. She is still facing two other lawsuits, which were filed shortly after Wang came forward, involving two unrelated incidents.
Additionally, the defence lawyer and Crown have asked for the early guilty plea to be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
The defence lawyer for the case said that Browning’s Indigenous heritage should be considered as a mitigating factor in the incident, as she has experienced hardship throughout her life as a direct result of residental schools and the harm caused to Canada’s First Nations people.
Wang launched a lawsuit against the Kelowna RCMP, in 2020, alleging Browning left her with significant injuries after the wellness check. BC RCMP confirmed the two parties settled but refused to comment stating the details are covered under a confidentiality clause.
Since the incident, Wang completed her schooling and works as a psychiatric nurse.
The hearing continues.
Resources for people experiencing a mental health crisis are available and free of charge. You can find help by calling the Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-833-456-4566 or the BC Crisis Center at 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE).