The Kelowna nursing student who brought a civil lawsuit against the officer she claims used excessive force during a wellness check in January called for changes to the practice at a rally in Vancouver on Saturday.
Since her story became public through her claim, which includes video showing parts of the interaction with RCMP officer Cpl. Lacy Browning on Jan. 20, Mona Wang continues to speak out about wellness checks and how she wants them to change.
There were three other similar rallies in B.C. on Saturday in Kelowna, Surrey and Richmond.
"It's amazing to have received so much support ... it's made it easier to speak out," she said.
On Jan. 20, Wang, who says she has history of anxiety, was having a panic attack.
She had been in contact with her boyfriend in Vancouver, but when she stopped responding to his texts, he got worried and called emergency responders to look in on her at her condo in the Okangan city of Kelowna.
Browning arrived alone do the wellness check, according to Wang's lawsuit.
In her notice of claim, Wang alleges Browning used excessive force during the check, at one point punching Wang and leaving her with bruises on her face, while shouting at her "to stop being so dramatic."
Surveillance video later shows Browning dragging Wang across the hallway, and later, stepping on her head.
'Looked like a crime scene'
Wang's roommate Shayla Raine said she received a flood of text messages on the evening of Jan. 20 asking what was going on in her apartment.
The University of British Columbia Okanagan student rushed home to find a trail of blood leading to the suite she shared with Wang and another student.
"That was one of the scariest moments of my life," said Raine on Saturday.
"When I opened the suite, it looked like a crime scene. Furniture was shuffled, there was pills ... it was not a good scene."
The RCMP have denied the allegations and say Browning used reasonable force given the circumstances. In Browning's statement of defence, she alleges Wang had a box cutter in her hand.
The case is still before the courts, but in the meantime Wang is calling for changes to wellness checks such as having a mental health nurse or a social worker accompany police.
"This should not happen to anyone. Period," she said at Saturday's rally.
Her mother, Li Yan, said learning of her daughter's suffering during the wellness check in January was the "darkest day" of her life.
She said that she is proud of her daughter for having the courage to speak out and she thanked people at Saturday's rallies for supporting Wang.
"Thank you very much to everyone who paid attention to Mona's story and helped," she said.
Wang said her mental health has improved. She has been receiving psychiatric support and wants to push on to encourage others to speak out about their experiences.
"To give a light of hope to those who are suffering as well. I believe it's really important to speak out," she said. "I believe that change will come."
Car 67 program
Wang's case and others have put increased scrutiny on the role of the police in dealing with mental health crises.
Since the beginning of April this year, at least four people have died in Canada during the course of a police-involved wellness checks.
In Surrey, RCMP say they responded to 7,000 mental health calls in 2019.
The detachment has made an attempt to better respond to these calls by creating the Car 67 program. In it, a mental health nurse is paired with an officer to attend certain calls.
Code of conduct investigation
Wang's incident led a B.C. RCMP commander to push for the expansion of teams that pair an officer and a nurse during mental health checks. Chief Supt. Brad Haugli of the southeast district said in June that such teams have been effective in de-escalating situations involving people in crisis and helped ease referral to treatment, as needed.
Haugli said that a code of conduct investigation had been started and it will be sent to an external police agency for review.
Destiny Baker is one of the demonstrators at the Vancouver rally.
"We're coming here today, we're risking our lives to get a sickness because we care that much. We care about her and we care about every single other person who has gone through such injustice," she said.