3rd lawsuit alleges police brutality by Kelowna Mountie

September 11, 2020

UPDATE 5:35 p.m.

The Southeast District Commander of the BC RCMP has released a statement in response to a third lawsuit filed this week alleging police brutality at the hands of a Kelowna RCMP officer Const. Lacey Browning.

“While I appreciate and respect the Civil Court process, I am concerned that the information currently available didn’t provide a full picture of the incident,” C/Supt. Brad Haugli said. “These new allegations were subject to judicial oversight and process.”

Haugli says the civil suit relates to an incident that occurred on March 9, 2019 when officers were called to a report of “a very intoxicated man carrying a small child along a local road.”

Haugli said Browning attended, initiated an investigation and arrested the man for causing a disturbance.

“The accused resisted arrest, assaulted the police officer and was ultimately taken into custody and transported to cells.  He was charged with Assault Police Officer, Wilfully Resist, and Cause Disturbance,” Haugli said, explaining the charges were stayed in December 2019 under the alternative measures program of the Criminal Code.

“I suggest that the media directly contact the Plaintiff and ask about the nature of the letter he wrote to Const. Lacey Browning,” Haugli said, without offering any additional details on the contents of the letter.

“While I respect that anyone can initiate a civil process, and our lawyers will respond to the civil allegations via the courts in due time, I did not want this matter to be reported without proper context or comment.”

“As I have stated before, high public confidence is what we strive for and when we become aware of concerning behaviour, we need to assure the public that we are taking the necessary steps to gather all the facts, using legislated processes to make a determination on what occurred, and to hold our members accountable.”

Haugli said the previous allegations involving Const. Browning and the wellness check involving UBCO student Mona Wang are “subject to a criminal and internal investigation and I monitor the progress daily.”

ORIGINAL 12 p.m.

A Kelowna RCMP officer has been hit with a third lawsuit alleging police brutality.

Const. Lacey Browning, the same Mountie caught on surveillance camera dragging UBCO student Mona Wang down a hallway and pushing her head into the ground, was named in a civil lawsuit filed in Kelowna this week over an arrest last year.

In a notice of civil claim, Cole Charles Vasko alleges he was walking home on March 9, 2019 after attending a wrestling match with his five-year-old son. After the match, they visited a friend’s home, and at about midnight, Vasko and his son began to walk home.

While on his way home, Vasko claims he had an altercation with a motorist who almost hit him and his son. Unbeknownst to Vasko, that motorist called the police, causing them to attend.

The lawsuit alleges that while he was walking home, without warning, he felt someone grab him from behind and throw him to the ground, smashing his nose on the ground.

“The plaintiff did not see or notice police. If there were lights on, he was not aware and he heard no sirens. Furthermore, there was no request made for him to stop,” the lawsuit claims. “The plaintiff has not been able to breathe properly since the assault.”

While Vasko was on the ground, he claims Const. Browning identified herself but did not explain why he was being arrested, proceeding to threaten him with pepper spray and a taser while his five-year-old son watched on.

At the Kelowna RCMP detachment, Vasko says he was dropped on his face and had his elbow damaged when it was twisted behind his back.

The lawsuit alleges Vasko was detained at the detachment for ten hours without being advised why, in violation of his Charter rights.

Vasko was charged with resisting arrest, assault and disturbing the peace four months after the incident.

“Browning charged the plaintiff in order to cover up her assault on the plaintiff,” the lawsuit alleges.

Online court records indicate the charges would later be dropped by Crown counsel on Dec. 5, 2019.

“The actions of Browning and the RCMP were reckless, arrogant, high-handed, abusive, and showed a callous disregard for the plaintiff’s rights,” the lawsuit claims. “Browning and the RCMP have engaged in conduct that is reprehensible and deserves punishment.”

The lawsuit is seeking a variety of damages and costs. In addition to Const. Browning, the lawsuit named the Attorney General of Canada and B.C. Minister of Public Safety as defendants.

The defendants have not yet filed a response and none of the allegations from the lawsuit have been proven in court.

This is the third lawsuit to name Const. Lacey Browning over alleged police brutality. The first, involved the “wellness check” on UBCO student Mona Wang in Jan. 2020, while the second comes from a woman alleging an assault in 2016. All three lawsuits have been filed by Penticton-based lawyer Michael Patterson.

The criminal investigation into Const. Browning’s actions related to the Mona Wang lawsuit remains open.