British Columbia

2nd woman files lawsuit against Kelowna RCMP officer accused of assault during wellness check

Another Kelowna woman has filed a civil lawsuit against RCMP Const. Lacy Browning, claiming the officer assaulted her while she was walking home from a New Year's Eve party in 2016.

West Kelowna resident Fiona Read claims Const. Lacy Browning assaulted her in 2016 as she was walking home

Still from a surveillance video shows Const. Lacy Browning stepping on student Mona Wang's head after a wellness check by the RCMP Jan. 20. (Submitted by Bridge Law Corporation)

A second woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Kelowna RCMP Const. Lacy Browning, claiming the officer assaulted her while she was walking home from a New Year's Eve party in 2016.

The lawsuit claims Browning "grabbed [the woman] by her hair and pounded her head into the ground multiple times" during the alleged assault.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Browning has not filed a legal response to the civil lawsuit.

A police spokesperson said the RCMP is aware of the lawsuit but has not yet been formally served.

Const. Browning is the subject of a criminal and code of conduct investigation by the RCMP, after a video emerged last month showing the officer dragging UBC-Okanagan nursing student Mona Wang down a hallway and stepping on her head during a wellness check in January. Wang has filed a civil lawsuit against Browning.

This second lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday by West Kelowna woman Fiona Read.

Read claims she approached Browning while she was walking home from a Kelowna New Year's Eve party after a dispute with her friends that left her frightened.

According to the lawsuit, Read walked toward a police vehicle that was stopped on the street in order to seek protection and ask an RCMP officer to investigate her friends' actions. 

'Pounded her head into the ground multiple times'

Browning asked Read if her name was Fiona and after Read confirmed it was, Browning allegedly assaulted her, according to the civil claim.

"Browning grabbed the plaintiff, flipped her around, grabbed her by her hair and pounded her head into the ground multiple times causing damage to the plaintiff's face," the lawsuit states.

"The plaintiff was cuffed by Browning and pulled from the ground by her arms that were behind her back."

Read claims she was taken to the Kelowna RCMP detachment "in extreme pain and discomfort" and detained for more than six hours without the RCMP telling her why she was being held.

The RCMP fingerprinted Read and gave her a summons to appear in court. However, the lawsuit says, Read was never criminally charged by Crown prosecutors.

Read says after she was released from RCMP custody, she sought medical treatment from a doctor, and her injuries were documented.

"The plaintiff's injured knee was a direct result of the assault by Browning," the lawsuit states. "The plaintiff had bruising and swelling on the left side of her face and tenderness on the back of her head where Browning had pulled out chunks of her hair."

The lawsuit states on Jan 2, 2016, Read approached Browning's RCMP supervisor to make a formal complaint, but the supervisor allegedly refused to accept the complaint, saying Browning's actions were justified.

Read claims, as a result of the alleged assault, she is unable to run or ski because of the injury to her knee.

'Emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment'

The lawsuit claims Read now suffers from "emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment," as well as "extreme panic and anxiety attacks" when she spots Browning or other RCMP officers in Kelowna.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said in an email on Thursday they are aware of the second civil lawsuit against Const. Browning, however, the RCMP hasn't been formally served with the court documents yet. 

On June 23, the RCMP announced it had launched a criminal investigation into Browning's actions, after the video showing her treatment of Wang during the January wellness check emerged.

Kelowna nursing student Mona Wang, 20, speaks at a rally in Vancouver on Saturday, July 11, 2020 about the way police conduct wellness checks. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The video prompted outrage from across the country, and in early June, RCMP Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli said he was deeply sorry for what happened to Wang and expressed the need for more nurses to attend mental health calls with RCMP officers.

Review by Abbotsford Police Department

On Thursday, RCMP Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said the RCMP have completed their criminal investigation into the incident and handed the findings to the Abbotsford Police Department for review.

"Once they have completed their review, and if there are no other investigative requirements, the materials will then be sent to the B.C. Prosecution Service for charge assessment," Shoihet said.

Browning remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal code of conduct investigation, according to Shoihet.

About the Author

Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan

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