2 Kelowna Mounties who are under investigation involved in 2019 arrest that’s subject of civil suit

June 05, 2021


Two Kelowna RCMP officers who are under investigation for separate arrests were both involved in a 2019 arrest that’s now the subject of a civil lawsuit.

Cole Vasko filed a lawsuit last year against Kelowna RCMP officer Const. Lacy Browning, who gained national attention, and a separate civil lawsuit, for her treatment of Mona Wang in January 2020.

In a recent filed response to Vasko’s lawsuit, Const. Browning says the March 2019 arrest on Highway 33 near Hollywood Road involved another Kelowna RCMP officer who’s already facing two separate criminal assault charges – Const. Siggy Pietrzak.

Pietrzak came under fire after a video was published showing him repeatedly punching a suspected impaired driver during an arrest in downtown Kelowna on May 30, 2020. After a year of investigation, the BC Prosecution Service laid an assault charge against the officer.

And just this past week, another charge of assaulting a woman from a separate incident was laid against Const. Pietrzak, stemming from 2017.

In Const. Browning’s recently filed response, she says Const. Pietrzak was the second officer on scene while she attempted to arrest Vasko for causing a disturbance on March 9, 2019 in Rutland.

Vasko claims the incident started after he had an altercation with a motorist, as he was walking home from a friend’s house around midnight with his five-year-old son. The motorist called 911, and as Vasko and his son carried on, he claims Const. Browning came up behind him and threw him to the ground without warning.

He also claims he was arrested without being informed of why, and then detained for a further 10 hours without explanation. He was charged four months later with resisting arrest, assault and disturbing the peace – charges Vasko claims were laid to cover up Const. Browning’s alleged assault.

Vasko’s charges were later stayed under the “alternative measures program,” which saw Vasko write an apology letter to Const. Browning, and take an anger management course, in exchange for the dropping of the charges.

Vasko told Castanet he agreed to the alternative measures due to the large financial toll he expected to face in legal fees if he fought the charges in court.

In her response, Const. Browning paints a very different picture of her interaction with Vasko. She claims she had received a report just after midnight that Vasko was intoxicated and had dropped his child. She says she found him on Highway 33 near Hollywood Road and told him from her vehicle to stop walking.

She says she formed the opinion that Vasko was impaired by alcohol and drugs, and he began yelling and refusing to comply with her orders to remove his hands from his pockets.

Const. Pietrzak arrived on scene, and Browning says he told Vasko to stop yelling in front of his son, to no avail. The officers then attempted to arrest Vasko for disturbing the peace.

“The plaintiff resisted arrest and failed to comply with police directions. Csts. Browning and Pietrzak therefore used force to attempt to arrest the plaintiff,” Browning says in her filed response, claiming Vasko squeezed her forearm during the struggle, causing her pain.

Vasko was eventually handcuffed and taken to the Kelowna RCMP cells, before being released at 8:10 a.m. It’s unclear what happened to Vasko’s five-year-old son following the altercation.

Vasko said he had wanted to sue the RCMP and Const. Browning for the incident at the time, but his lawyer had told him it would be very costly. When he saw Mona Wang and another Kelowna resident had filed suits against Const. Browning, he decided to pursue his civil claim with lawyer Michael Patterson, who’s representing the two other plaintiffs.

“I figured this is definitely a pattern and I wasn’t the only one that this happened to,” he told Castanet last year.

Vasko’s lawsuit is one of three that Browning has recently been handed. Browning and the RCMP recently settled with Mona Wang – a settlement Wang called a “compromise.” The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

A criminal investigation into Browning’s treatment of Wang was completed in April, and it’s now in the hands of the BC Prosecution Service for charge assessment. Browning, who’s been placed on administrative duty, has yet to be charged for the incident.

An online petition calling for her termination sits at close to 390,000 signatures. An internal RCMP code of conduct investigation into Browning’s actions remains ongoing.