A recently released video shows an RCMP officer dragging a handcuffed woman face down across the floor, stepping on her head, and pulling her by her hair during a wellness call.
The surveillance camera footage is from an incident in January and was released in a related lawsuit filed against the RCMP. The video was first posted online by Castanet on Monday.
The footage shows Cpl. Lacy Browning of Kelowna RCMP dragging Mona Wang, a UBC nursing student, out of her apartment. The video shows that Wang had her hands cuffed behind her back as Browning dragged her across a carpeted hallway to the entrance of the building. Once there Browning waited with Wang handcuffed at her feet. After a few moments, Browning put her foot on the back of the restrained woman's head and drove it into the ground. Shortly after, Browning lifted Wang's head off the ground by her hair and appeared to say something to her.
“The actions of Browning and the RCMP were reckless, arrogant, high-handed, abusive, and showed a callous disregard for the plaintiff’s rights,” reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says Wang’s boyfriend believed Wang was in distress, so he called the police and requested a mental health check. Wang was semiconscious on the bathroom floor when Browning arrived, according to the lawsuit. Wang alleges Browning did not announce her presence as a police officer, and when Wang couldn’t get up, the officer stepped on her arm, kicked her in the stomach, called her a “stupid idiot,” and told her to “stop being dramatic.” The lawsuit claims that Browning also punched Wang several times and left her with “bruises to the face, broken blood vessels to the left eye, swollen right eye, and bruising to the right temple.”
The lawsuit says Wang was brought to a nearby hospital for treatment where Browning told the staff that she was high on methamphetamine. A toxicology report showed Wang had no drugs in her system.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The RCMP offered a different version of events in response to the civil suit. In the response, lawyers for Browning and the RCMP say that when Browning went to check on Wang, Browning was attacked by the student’s dog, found the woman self-harming in the washroom with a box cutter and empty pill bottles, and “behaving in a bizarre and erratic manner.” They claimed that Wang became violent as she was being arrested and Browning was forced to strike her “several times with an open palm." The response said that Wang wouldn't stand after being hit and handcuffed so Browning was forced to “move her.” It does not address Browning dragging Wang on her face, stepping on her head, and pulling her by the hair.
The RCMP claim that all actions conducted by Browning were “reasonable, lawful, and executed in good faith.”
The lawsuit also names the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Attorney General of Canada as defendants.
The video comes to light during a time of scrutiny over the use of police force during wellness checks in Canada. Since April, police have killed at least five people in Canada during wellness and mental health checks—including a 62-year-old man with schizophrenia who was shot dead by Peel police this weekend. All five were Black, Indigenous, or people of colour.
Police in the United States are facing mass protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. The protests are calling for police to be defunded and some of that money be redistributed to mental health programs.
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