Demonstrators call for end to police violence at rally for B.C. nursing student

People attend a demonstration in support of nursing student Mona Wang, who alleges excessive force was used by an RCMP officer during a wellness check in Kelowna, in Vancouver, on Saturday, July 11, 2020. Wang has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court against RCMP Cpl. Lacy Browning in regards to the incident that took place at University of B.C. Okanagan in January. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Police have completed a criminal investigation into the actions of a Kelowna RCMP officer during a wellness check on a UBC Okanagan student earlier this year.

In January, Const. Lacey Browning was dispatched to check on nursing student Mona Wang after her boyfriend called police because he was concerned for her safety. Video camera footage shows the officer dragging Wang down a hallway, pulling on her hair and stepping on her head.

“With respect to the ongoing matters, we can confirm that the criminal investigation into the previous allegations has been completed and is now subject to an external review by the Abbotsford Police Department,” said a statement from RCMP staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet.

Once the Abbotsford PD review is completed, the materials will be sent to the BC Prosecution Service for a decision on whether charges will be laid. No timeline was given.

In the meantime, an internal code of conduct investigation continues, as Browning remains on administrative leave.

Wang is now suing Browning, the police and provincial and federal governments over her treatment.

More than 377,000 people have signed an online petition that calls for Browning to be fired and charged with assault over the incident.

“I'm sure we can all agree that the use of force that Wang was subjected to was definitely neither ‘limited’ nor ‘reasonable’ or ‘necessary.’ Browning's job was to de-escalate a situation and help someone in a mental-health crisis,” said the petition.

“We need to do better for our citizens struggling with their mental health. They should be met with trained professionals, not uniformed officers. The most vulnerable people in our communities should not be dragged down hallways, pulled by the hair, and stepped on in their times of need.”

Rallies in support of Wang have taken place in Kelowna, Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey.

The RCMP also said a new civil claim has been filed that deals with allegations from an incident in January 2016 that was not previously reported to the RCMP.

“While we have not been formally served, typically what happens is that once served the civil matter will be reviewed and addressed by the Department of Justice through the normal civil processes,” said Shoihet. “The allegations are also being reviewed to determine if there are any other actions that need to be taken.”