The UBC Okanagan Students’ Union is speaking out after a student filed a lawsuit against an RCMP officer, the Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor, alleging she was assaulted during a wellness check.
UBCO student Mona Wang alleges she was assaulted by Const. Lacy Browning while the officer was conducting a wellness check on Wang.
The alleged assault was filmed by a surveillance video taken from inside the student’s on-campus apartment building and the plaintiff’s lawyer is using the video in an attempt to prove the officer used excessive force.
The video shows Browning dragging the handcuffed plaintiff on her stomach out of the apartment, down a carpeted hallway.
The plaintiff alleges she suffered injuries to her face, upper thigh, right breast, sternum and forearms.
Ali Poostizadeh, the students’ union president, said they were shocked and saddened to see how nursing student Mona Wang was treated by the officer.
“The systemic problems we see in law enforcement around the world are present in Canadian communities,” he said in a statement.
“We condemn the lack of oversight and use of force by RCMP officers in our community and across Canada.”
According to Wang’s civil claim, Const. Lacy Browning attended her apartment and found her lying on the floor in a state of semi-consciousness. Wang claims she wasn’t a danger to Browning.
Court documents allege the officer demanded that Wang stand up but when she couldn’t, Browning kicked the plaintiff in the stomach.
The university’s students’ union is calling for changes, including a review of UBC’s protocol when students need immediate mental health support, an increase in mental health support funding, an external review of the RCMP’s wellness check protocol, meaningful consequences for RCMP officers who abuse their power, as well as greater accountability on excessive use of force.
“We will continue to stand up for the safety and well-being of our student members. We believe in holding the government accountable for providing safe and equitable emergency services,” Poostizadeh said.
Browning has filed a response to the civil claim disputing the allegations.
In the response, RCMP stated that Browning acted within the course and scope of her duties as an RCMP officer and did not act with malice. It is also claimed the officer had reasonable and probable grounds for the arrest and temporary detention of the plaintiff. The response alleges the plaintiff acted with volatile demeanour, was aggressive and refused to follow commands and that therefore the limited use of force by the defendant Browning was no more than was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.
None of these allegations have been proven in court.
Wang’s civil claim is the second one brought against an RCMP officer that alleges aggressive use of force.