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

National champion beatboxer Vino Cuenca, a Surrey resident, in photo posted to facebook.com/BeatboxCanada.
WATCH: Surrey man’s beatboxing skills make him a national champ with an eye on Worlds

Vocal-percussion whiz Vino Cuenca won the Beatbox Canada title in 2019

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: We expect integrity from leaders

Is it too much to ask that conflict related to the city’s business be met on the battleground of fact?

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
Rumours of vehicle-occupant address checks untrue, say Surrey RCMP

COVID-19 enforcement about education, says Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

B.C.’s parliament buildings in Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
Surrey gets two cabinet ministers, a parliamentary secretary and government whip

Premier John Horgan’s NDP MLAs were sworn in on Tuesday and the cabinet was revealed Thursday afternoon

Hardeep Singh Sahota, the director of Royal Academy of Bhangra in Surrey, says there’s lots of confusion around the temporary closure of dance studios. He’s pictured in the empty studio, which shows spaced out dance areas, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
‘Temporary’ closure causing confusion for Surrey dance studio

Bhangra academy director says studios need more guidance from healh authorities

National champion beatboxer Vino Cuenca, a Surrey resident, in photo posted to facebook.com/BeatboxCanada.
WATCH: Surrey man’s beatboxing skills make him a national champ with an eye on Worlds

Vocal-percussion whiz Vino Cuenca won the Beatbox Canada title in 2019

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
Two Fraser Valley churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is taking heat over using a ableist slur to refer to three Black Press employees. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)
BC School Trustees Association president keeps heat on Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld

In a news release, Stephanie Higginson called on voters to take careful note of Neufeld’s behaviour

Most Read