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Questions raised over lengthy investigations into Kelowna Mounties’ conduct

Two Kelowna RCMP officers caught on camera in concerning incidents faced lengthy investigations into their conduct.

Const. Lacy Browning is still under investigation for dragging UBC Okanagan student Mona Wang handcuffed down a hallway, pulling her hair and pushing her face down with her boot.

“It’s still lingering in the back of my head, and I’m at a point where I just want to kind of move on,” Wang said.

“I’m still suffering from what she did to me. And I think it’s something I’m just going to have to live with.”

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The wellness check was carried out in January 2020.

In a response to a civil claim filed by Wang, B.C.’s attorney general and Browning said the officer “was acting in the course and scope of her duties.”

After the video of the incident surfaced, RCMP promised swift action on the file in July.

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“I am anticipating we will have a report to crown completed and advanced the Crown counsel by mid-July,” Chief Supt. Brad Haugli said during a news conference at the time. “And we will provide an update to you when that is done.”

After conducting an external review of the file, Abbotsford police sent the investigation back to RCMP in September, calling for them to track down some of the key witnesses.

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It’s now been seven months since that update.

Meanwhile, approximately five months after Browning’s incident, Const. Siggy Pietrzak was caught on camera punching an allegedly impaired driver.

The Crown charged him with assault this week after a nearly year-long investigation.

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Retired police chief and former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed said even Pietrzak’s investigation took too long.

“I think the charge approval process in B.C. moves at a snail’s pace,” Heed said.

“We’ve probably had this officer on some type of administrative leave or desk duty for that period of time where he is getting his full salary.”

Heed is calling for officer body cameras, and believes that video evidence could help speed up costly investigations.

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“I think it would save time in the long run, and ultimately it would save a heck of a lot of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

“Certainly it’s a wise investment.”

It’s important to note that the assault allegation against Pietrzak has not been proven.

His first court appearance is on May 3.

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But Wang said she was still happy to see some RCMP accountability.

“I feel really great that that person was able to find their justice. It is a little disheartening because I’m still waiting,” she said.

Heed said it’s concerning that the investigation into Browning’s conduct has taken so long, especially because Pietrzak’s incident happened after Browning’s but has already wrapped up.

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“I’m hoping that they’re not looking for some other type of process here, whether it be an internal discipline process under the RCMP Act, or in fact, they’re looking at alternative measures from the court perspective,” he said.

“We should not accept a lower level of process against that officer based on what we witnessed by cameras that were in the hallway of that apartment building.”

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RCMP said the criminal investigation into Browning’s actions is being handled by the Southeast District, and there’s no timeline for when it will conclude.

“The matter remains ongoing and progress is checked weekly,” Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in an email.

“The police officer has been assigned to administrative duties and duty status is subject to continual assessment,” she added.

Click to play video: Mona Wang extended interview after police apology

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