Sophia Koehler on June 25, 2020 two days after she says she was violently arrested at her home during a mental health wellness check. An RCMP spokesperson said Koehler did not co-operate with police, something she denies. (Paul Henderson/ The Chilliwack Progress)

Sophia Koehler on June 25, 2020 two days after she says she was violently arrested at her home during a mental health wellness check. An RCMP spokesperson said Koehler did not co-operate with police, something she denies. (Paul Henderson/ The Chilliwack Progress)

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

WARNING: This story discusses suicide.

Sophia Koehler was having a terrible Tuesday two weeks ago when her spouse dialed 911 looking for help, concerned she would hurt herself.

Koehler has four daughters but suffers from anxiety and depression, and a recent suicide attempt led to her children being apprehended earlier that day, June 23.

Koehler was harming herself, according to her partner Cory Burger who called for help.

What Burger hoped for, and Koehler expected looking back in hindsight, was help and compassion and safety. What the 34-year-old instead received was a facial injury and bruising all over her body in the driveway in front of her house, injuries she says were inflicted by an impatient RCMP officer.

Sophia Koehler on June 23, 2020 at Chilliwack General Hospital after she was apprehended by Mounties after a mental health wellness check. An RCMP spokesperson said Koehler did not co-operate with police, something she denies. (Submitted to The Chilliwack Progress)

“Look at what they do as their way of helping me,” Koehler told The Progress in an interview two days after the incident, as she pointed to a large scab next to her eye.

Incidents of violence alleged against RCMP officers during mental health wellness checks have been prominent in the news lately. Most recently, last week, Kelowna RCMP commander Chief Supt. Brad Haugli called for more nurses during wellness checks.

Haugli’s response came after a video was released of a student being dragged down a hall by an RCMP officer.

• READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

• READ MORE: B.C. First Nation wants murder charge laid against police officer who shot Chantel Moore

With three police officers at her Carleton Street residence on June 23, Koehler admits she was arguing with the officers about going with them, an apprehension police decided was needed under the Mental Health Act.

She said she was in the passenger seat of her minivan, and asked one officer if she could look for a cigarette. He said OK, she reached to grab her purse when a different officer became impatient, according to her version of events, grabbed her “and smashed my head into the pavement in front of my house.”

Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Krista Vrolyk confirmed the police responded to a complaint of a woman in a vehicle harming herself, in distress.

“Our members did attend and determined that she needed to be apprehended under the Mental Health Act and taken to the hospital to be assessed,” Vrolyk said in a statement. “The individual did not co-operate and resisted, but was eventually apprehended, placed into the back of a police vehicle and immediately taken to the local hospital.”

Vrolyk said that after a medical assessment it was determined that none of her injuries met the threshold for notifying the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C.

IIO is the civilian-led police oversight agency responsible for investigating incidents of “death or serious harm” that may have been the result of police actions or inactions.

Told by The Progress that IIO was not involved, Koehler was dismayed.

“What the f—- do the injuries have to be? A broken arm?” she asked. “I have a concussion.”

She added that she already suffered from severe depression and anxiety, which is related to why her children were taken away on June 23. After the incident with police, she said her anxiety is worse, and the sight of police gets her very upset leading to the need for medication.

Koehler has filed a public complaint against the RCMP hoping, she says, to hold the police accountable for her injuries.

“Being as it was a mental health check, I don’t think it was appropriate,” she said. “I have scar on my face forever. I wasn’t resisting at all. I got mad when they slammed me down on the ground.”

She said she has her spouse Cory and a neighbour who corroborate what happened that day.

In response, Chilliwack Mounties expressed confidence that a public complaint investigation involving evidence from the complainant, officers, witnesses, police radio recording and video recordings will get to the truth of what took place.

”We are confident that the totality of information will provide a clearer picture of what actually occurred,” Sgt. Vrolyk said. “We welcome this process in order to ensure the facts are gathered and any concerns are addressed as soon as possible. Once a public complaint investigation is completed, the complainant is provided with a copy of the results.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@TheProgress
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

Slava Doval and her youth group DanceFusion got an emotional response from residents at Mountain Lakes Seniors Community on April 30. Photo: Submitted
‘It touched me deeply’: Youth dancers perform at Nelson seniors home

Slava Doval’s DanceFusion danced outdoors for Mountain Lake residents

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read