A second woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Kelowna Mountie Lacey Browning, accusing the constable of assaulting her while on duty.
The suit filed in BC Supreme Court by Fiona Read on Wednesday, July 15, comes less than a month after security camera footage was released showing Const. Browning dragging UBC Okanagan student Mona Wang down a hallway at her residence and stepping on her head. Wang is suing the RCMP officer, the Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor following the incident.
Read’s allegations date back to the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2016, following a party at her friend’s neighbour’s house.
Read was initially meant to spend the night at her friend’s house but she says she became uncomfortable at the party and began walking back to her friend’s house to gather her things. She had planned to head back to her own house. She claims her friends attempted to stop her from leaving but was eventually allowed to leave.
Leaving her car at her friend’s house, Read began walking home. She came upon an RCMP vehicle and, according to the suit, felt she was “in need of protection” and approached the cruiser to seek help from the officer, who was later identified to be Const. Browning.
Browning asked Read to confirm her first name was Fiona, the suit claims, and upon doing so, “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 plaintiff lost count of how many times her face was slammed into concrete,” reads the suit.
Read claims Browning then cuffed her and pulled her from the ground by her arms which were behind her back. Read was arrested and brought to the RCMP detachment, where she claims she was held for six hours and Browning never asked her a question besides her name.
Read was fingerprinted and eventually told she was being charged with assault and resisting arrest, though she was never read her rights and the Crown never approved the charges, the claim states.
“Browning charged the plaintiff in order to cover up her assault on the plaintiff,” the suit reads.
Despite arriving at the detachment in “extreme pain and discomfort,” Read claims she was not allowed to be treated by paramedics.
After her discharge, Read went to see a doctor, where her injuries were documented, including her bruised and swollen face, missing chunks of hair and injured right knee.
“As a result of the brutal assault by Browning, the plaintiff had to permanently quit running and skiing due to the severity of the injury to her knee,” the suit states.
“The actions of Browning and the RCMP were reckless, arrogant, high-handed, abusive, and showed a callous disregard to the plaintiff’s rights. Browning and the RCMP have engaged in conduct that is reprehensible and deserves punishment.”
The following day, Read claims she attempted to file a complaint against Browning to her supervisor but they refused to accept it.
“The actions of the supervisor are evidence of the RCMP being complicit in covering up Browning’s assault of the plaintiff,” reads the suit.
The plaintiff only became aware that she had a right to complain and take legal action against Browning’s actions following media reports about recent allegations against Browning and the RCMP’s statements that ‘they take complaints seriously.’”
None of Read’s claims have been proven in court and Browning has not filed a response.
The RCMP has not yet been formally served with the lawsuit but the claims will be reviewed and addressed by the Department of Justice through the normal civil processes, said Staff-Sgt. Janelle Shoihet.
“The allegations are also being reviewed to determine if there are any other actions that need to be taken,” she added.
Browning was placed on administrative leave after criminal and internal investigations were launched related to her actions against Wang.
Shoihet said the criminal investigation into the previous allegations has been completed and is now subject to an external review by the Abbotsford Police Department. Once they have completed their review, and if there are no other investigative requirements, the materials will then be sent to the BC Prosecution Service for charge assessment.
An online petition calling for Browning to be fired and criminally charged has reached nearly 375,000 signatures.
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